Last Updated: November 25, 2020

All advertising can fall into two broad categories – push and pull. Push advertising tries to push products towards customers using big ads and attention-grabbing claims to put products into the minds of customers. On the other side of the coin, pull advertising targets the right customers at the right time and pulls them towards a product. (See also Pull Marketing)

Marketing professionals have debated the advantages and disadvantages of the two strategies for decades. Pull marketing is often associated with new Internet marketing strategies, while push marketing uses more traditional approaches. Companies must choose which strategy will be most effective as they develop marketing plans.

This is not a decision that can be made lightly. Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising each year, and if a company chooses the wrong strategy, they can squander huge amounts of money on advertisements that customers ignore.

What is push marketing?

Push marketing focuses on taking the product to the customer, and putting the product in front of the customer at the point of purchase. This type of marketing strategy hopes to minimize the amount of time between a customer discovering a product and buying that product. To accomplish this, companies use aggressive and wide-reaching ads to make the biggest and most immediate impact they can on customers.

Examples of Push Marketing

  • Trade show promotions
  • Direct selling to customers in showrooms
  • Negotiating with retailers to stock a product
  • Maintaining an efficient supply chain
  • Appealing looking packaging
  • Point of sale displays
  • Radio ads
  • TV ads
  • Email ads
  • Direct mail ads
  • Pay per click ads

Traditional marketing is often synonymous with push marketing. Classic marketing strategies like primetime television advertisements, buy one get one free coupons, and direct mail catalogs are all examples of push marketing. This marketing strategy casts a wide net in the hopes of grabbing as many potential customers as possible. It does not try to build relationships with customers but focuses only on pushing products towards them. Statements about value, quality, and innovativeness are emphasized to try and create immediate customer demand. (See also Outbound Marketing)

The greatest advantage of push marketing is that it produces quick results and makes clear statements to customers. It is less concerned with branding, and more concerned with creating an instant demand for a new product.

The major disadvantage of push marketing is that it can be expensive and only produce temporary effects. Since the goal is not to create long-term customer relationships, push marketing strategies have to constantly make new pitches about the value of products. It keeps the customer at a distance, meaning they must constantly be reengaged.

Who implements push marketing?

Push marketing is a strategy that is used most frequently by start-ups and companies introducing new products into the market. Since the focus is on taking the product to the consumer, it is particularly suited to products that the consumer is not yet aware of.

This style of marketing can be used by companies large and small. A new shoe store might send out mailers to all the residents in the area, while an established pharmaceutical company might blanket the airwaves with TV ads for a new drug.

Most companies will employ a push strategy in conjunction with other marketing techniques. For instance, companies will often run TV ads and also maintain an official company website. The TV ads push customers towards the products, while the website pulls them deeper into the company’s offerings.

Push Marketing in Action

  • Nintendo – At E3, the video game industry’s largest trade convention, Nintendo hired 250 brand ambassadors to work at their booth. The ambassadors were there to show attendees new games, answer their questions, and introduce them to a new gaming system. Nintendo hired this army of short term staff to aggressively push their games towards consumers with a helpful, human face.
  • Dunkin Donuts – The doughnut maker distributed coupons to mobile phone users in the Boston area. They sent the coupons to people who had opted into a program after responding to ads run on radio stations and online. The company saw a huge number of people redeem the coupon and try one of their new products because they provided an easy incentive.
  • Clorox – The maker of over 60 consumer brands including Hidden Valley, noticed that sales of ranch dressing went up 10% after they started marketing it as a dip for frozen foods like pizza. The company began looking for other ways to market nontraditional uses for classic products. If they could push new uses on consumers, they could increase demand.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue – Any time a user downloads the luxury retailers mobile app, they are enrolled into a program to begin receiving mobile notifications about sales, new products, and in-store events. The retailer used the power of mobile technology to keep interested customers informed on all the latest news about the store.

How is a push marketing plan developed?

The first step in developing a push marketing plan is to research the location, age, race, sex, socioeconomic status, and other demographic details about customers that will be targeted. Different marketing strategies work better for different audiences. For instance, push marketing is often targets the young and the elderly because they are less likely to form long-term relationships with companies.

Companies must determine the specific marketing mix after they have settled on a push marketing strategy. This industry term refers to the mix of different advertising channels a company might use. It is rare that a company advertises in only one place, and they usually mix print, TV, online, and trade show ads to make a stronger impact on customers.

Once the media platform of the campaign has been decided, it is necessary to design ads. Teams of graphic designers, copywriters, technology professionals, and managers will work collaboratively to define a message and find the most efficient way to present that message. Advertisements should ask customers to act quickly to purchase products.

For example, imagine a new cell phone company that wants to introduce themselves to the market. Since they are new and unknown, they elect to use push marketing in order to familiarize customers with what makes them different and valuable. They decide on a marketing mix that includes TV, radio, and billboard advertisements because these forms of ads reach the largest number of customers and make clear, direct statements. They set a goal for themselves of increasing sales by 15% and track their growth in every month of the campaign. By the time the campaign is complete; customers recognize the brand and are familiar with their products.

Careers in push marketing

Sales Manager

What do they do?

Average Salaries of Push Marketers

  • Sales Manager
    entry level – $30,000-$60,000
    after 10 years – $70,000-$150,000
  • Mobile Marketing Manager
    entry level – $50,000-$70,000
    after 10 years – $80,000-$120,000
  • Graphic Designer
    entry level – $30,000-$50,000
    after 10 years – $60,000-$95,000


Sales managers will be responsible for working with clients, managing accounts, and pushing the sales efforts behind brands and products. They are not singularly responsible for the marketing around a product, but they will have input if a company decides to employ a push marketing strategy. It will be the sales manager’s job to bridge the gap between the company and the customer.

Education and Skills

A degree in marketing is not required of sales managers but it can be very helpful. They have to find innovative ways to present products and differentiate them from the products of competitors. Many sales managers have degree in business administration or communications.

Mobile Marketing Manager

What do they do?

Mobile marketing managers will lead all the marketing efforts that utilize mobile phone technology. They will identify the customers to target, design ads that will appeal to them, and find effective ways of delivering those ads. Mobile marketing is one of the fastest growing new types of marketing. Many of the strategies it employs push products towards customers through their phones.

Education and Skills

A degree in marketing will be necessary for any mobile marketing manager. An emphasis on digital or new media marketing is helpful. Some managers have supplemental education in public relations or database management.

Graphic Designer

What do they do?

Graphic designers create images, logos, and any other visual media that is included in an advertisement. They use tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create images that meet the exact specifications of marketers. Packaging and print advertising is a big part of push marketing. Graphic designers will have to determine the best way to make an impact on customers with the look of products and ads.

Education and Skills

A marketing degree is not necessary to become a graphic designer but it is helpful. Most of the work they do has some sort of persuasive intent. Training in art with an emphasis on digital imaging is helpful. New graphic designers will need to present a portfolio of past designs to be considered for a job.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Push marketing is one of the oldest and most widely studied marketing strategies in the field. Academics in marketing departments across the country focus on providing students with in-depth knowledge of push marketing due to its popularity and widespread use.

In a marketing program, students will learn both the theory and the practical skills necessary to push products towards consumers. They will examine case studies, work with design tools, conceptualize their own ads, and learn to conduct effective market research. Earning a degree in marketing will help provide you with more opportunities to break into the field, and successfully implement push marketing campaigns of your own.

The Rise of Mobile Advertising

New digital tools have opened up huge new opportunities to distribute push advertising. The mobile telephone has been a particularly useful tool now that they are essentially little computers carried in the pocket. Retailers have started using mobile phone notifications to send customers coupons and special alerts (See also Mobile Marketing). The chart below is based on research from Microsoft that investigated the growing use mobile coupons. This is one push marketing strategy that will be used aggressively moving into the future.