How to Use Push-Pull Marketing Strategies for Global Expansion

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Push marketing relies on intermediaries and promotions to generate awareness and demand for a company's products. Intermediaries -- wholesalers, retailers and sales staff -- push the products to the end customers. Pull marketing relies on advertising and promotion to pull customers into retail outlets, which generates demand through the distribution chain. Companies globalize to drive sales growth, sustain margins and develop new markets in developing countries. Push and pull strategies play an important role in a company's global expansion plans.

Evaluate the characteristics of the international market. According to Professor Rakesh B. Sambharya, the pull strategy is appropriate for consumer goods, large market segments, long distribution chains and inexpensive communication channels. The push strategy is appropriate for industrial products, short distribution chains and in less-developed overseas markets where direct selling is the only feasible way to reach customers.

Recognize that media communications must be tailored for different regions and countries. Standardized media campaigns are cost effective but suitable for companies with multiple brands. Differentiated campaigns are more expensive but allow companies to target the messages at specific consumer groups. A standard campaign could create brand awareness and pull in some customers. However, to generate sufficient sales volume in a new overseas market, a push strategy consisting of a differentiated media campaign combined with personal door-to-door selling would be more effective.

Use a combination push-pull strategy. Use traditional and electronic media advertising and local reseller relationships to push your products in a new international market. Pull customers in through your e-commerce store and social media advertising. John Boddie at Innosight described how Apple used push marketing to bundle a new music authoring software, GarageBand, on Mac computers, while relying on pull from musicians using the software in their studios.

Build relationships with your customers and become their advocates. Professor and author Glen Urban believes that smart companies use customer advocacy. Advocacy involves transparency and partnership to build a sustained competitive advantage. Pushing or pulling through increased media advertising and price promotions might work some of the time. However, Urban argues that worldwide customers are wiser and more sophisticated than ever before. Therefore, companies might find it more effective to establish an open and honest dialog with their customers using social media and other relatively cost-effective Internet communication tools. Customers tend to reciprocate with trust and loyalty toward companies that become their advocates and partners.

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