Broadly speaking, advertising can be divided into two categories: push and pull. They perform differently and have to be managed differently. Understanding the difference and managing each for what it is helps managers get more out of their marketing efforts. Push advertising means advertising that inserts into media while the audience is doing something else. This includes newspaper, Facebook advertising, radio, internet network advertising, door-to-door sales efforts, cable / tv, and even the sign outside your building. Pull advertising means advertising that is positioned where people will look when they are looking for your category of service. Pull advertising includes phone books, organic search results, paid search results, customer review sites, and online directories.

Pull advertising offers the advantage of higher conversion rates. If someone searches for local home care agencies on the internet, there is a very good chance that one of the ten agencies they see on the first page of search results will get a new client. Pull advertising offers faster results. Providing that people are searching for your services, being in the place they are searching can get you more qualified leads, faster. This makes pull advertising a favorite among new businesses that need results now. Pull advertising is also very easy to track. Managers can place tracking phone numbers on phone book ads, and internet ads can be tracked through their own built-in tracking mechanisms or through your website visitor tracking.

Push advertising has to be used more strategically, but should not be ignored if practices and agencies want to establish market dominance. Name recognition, positioning, branding, and top-of-mind awareness require push advertising. Whereas pull advertising can work the first time someone sees it, push advertising only works with repetition. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, if your push advertising does not include a plan to make sure the average audience member sees your message 12 times, it's not worth doing. Fortunately, push advertising generally costs much less per ad view (lower cost per impression). Only push advertising is capable of creating changes in consumer behavior such as educating families about alternatives to assisted living, educating people with back pain about the merits of physical therapy, or establishing top-of-mind awareness with doctors so they make more home health referrals each month. Push advertising supports the effectiveness of pull advertising. When potential patients are looking at a rack of brochures, a page of search results, a yellow page of directory ads, or a list the case manager hands them, the businesses with greater name recognition gets chosen more often. Measuring the effectiveness of push advertising is much more difficult. While it's easy to ask "How did you hear about us?", it's much more difficult to ask "What was the process by which you became familiar with our brand?"

Push advertising has notoriously low conversion rates. For instance, someone clicking through to your website from organic search results is ten times more likely to become a patient than someone clicking through to your website through a Facebook ad. The reason is simple. People seeing your Facebook advertising were doing something non-related when they saw your ad, and they want to get back to what they were doing. The person finding you in search results is in an active research and buying mode. However, to conclude from this fact that pull advertising is the only way to go will severely limit the potential of your business. Businesses seeking to establish a dominant position in their market must use a combination of push and pull advertising so they can be present when the consumer needs them and be recognized when the consumer sees them.