Push and pull strategies are the main types of promotional strategies that companies use to reach key customer demographics with their products and services. The ubiquitous email is an example of the push strategy.
Push is when a company reaches out to the consumer in very direct ways; the focus is usually on selling a product. It engages in marketing campaigns designed to draw as much attention to its goods and services as possible. Think big, splashy ads like TV ads or direct mail ads.
Take, for example, Groupon. For years, the daily deals company relied on email to try and lure consumers. Now, the coupon company is moving somewhat away from that push strategy to a different tactic in which they stress their relevance so that people will automatically want to visit its website to search for deals. The new approach represents the pull strategy.
Pull is when a company builds up enough interest in its goods and services that consumers demand them without being directly targeted in any way by the company. The key word is building demand. In other words, there's no hard sell and the company doesn't have to push anything. Social networking, blogs and media coverage are examples of pull methods.