Direct Marketing Vs. Indirect Marketing

By Justin |  Jul 24, 2013 (5 min read)


You’ve probably heard of the two terms indirect marketing and direct marketing. But what is the difference? Does one type of marketing get better results? What are the pros and cons of each type of marketing?

To begin with, let’s explore a little about the differences in direct and indirect marketing.

What is Direct Marketing?

Because of the word direct, some people will think that direct marketing means taking an ‘up close and personal approach.’ Yes, this can be the case with direct marketing, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

You can think of direct marketing as an attempt to ask a customer to buy. Examples of direct marketing are:

– In-person sales calls
– Print advertisements
– Telephone sales calls
Email advertisement campaigns
– Direct mail flyer or sales letters
– Promoted or paid advertising on social media
– Pre-roll ads on youtube and other video platforms

All these types of marketing are essentially saying “Look what we can do for you, please buy from us” to your customer.

A Smart Way to Get Started

The benefit of direct marketing is that you can quickly generate more sales and leads. You will get attention from prospects if you market directly to them. If you do it well, a percentage will even be enticed to buy from you. In fact, most successful businesses have some form of a direct marketing campaign in place that helps them grow. Depending on your advertising budget, this can be an excellent strategy for some companies.

However, the danger of direct marketing is you may fall into spamming people. Whenever you choose to do direct marketing, you are essentially interrupting their day to ask them to buy. Some people are open to this distraction; others are resistant. Especially with younger generations, most people are very used to advertising and tend to ignore most of it.

With any direct marketing campaign, you need to consider the impact on your brand and reputation. The more your direct marketing is in-line with your customer’s behavior, the better it will be received.

Direct marketing can be a great way to get started in growing your business. Put a little money aside and test out some different methods. Be conscious of cost, and keep tweaking the approach as you go.

What is Indirect Marketing?

Indirect marketing is the new kid on the block. It is essentially the ‘friends first’ or ‘awareness’ approach to growing customer loyalty.

Indirect marketing is found in many forms:

Search Engine Optimization
– News articles and press
– Sponsorships
– Useful blog posts
Social media fan pages
Social media influencers
– Product placements
– Word-of-mouth
– Referrals
– Online reviews

If you think about brands that you repeatedly buy from there was a time when you didn’t have any awareness of who they were. But over time, you started to feel a growing connection with them. This ‘feeling’ happened because of indirect marketing.

The benefit of indirect marketing is that it can grow incredible loyalty for a company. Many professional businesses such as law firms or accountants can have decades of business growth from indirect marketing and referrals. Restaurants and service businesses can also benefit massively from an indirect approach and growing online reviews.

Large-scale loyalty can be built with enough time. Brands such as Tesla, Apple, MailChimp, Nike, Trader Joe’s, Glossier, Starbucks, Vans and many others have shown that with the right approach brand loyalty can pay.

Seth Godin, one of the founding fathers of modern marketing, has this to say

“The marketer’s job is to tell a true story, one that resonates, one that matters to people, and to repeat it often enough that it creates value.”

In the modern era of marketing, you can gain a lot of engagement on social media platforms that can translate into actual sales. If a brand (or a person) has a strong enough following, it can mean that their loyal customers will buy almost everything they produce.

Be Patient, Be Persistent

Perhaps one of the biggest appeals of indirect marketing is that it costs less than direct marketing. There is no direct cost to get the attention of your customer.

However, it does take time, patience and consistency. You can’t expect that writing one blog article, or having one good online review will boost your sales. It can take years to see the return on investment of indirect marketing.

Some marketing experts would say anything you do and say to your customers is a form of marketing. Every time you sell to or serve your customer you are growing their desire to buy again or to refer you. This is very important to remember.

Both direct and indirect marketing can have soaring success rates when planned properly and targeted correctly.

The key to success in both indirect and direct marketing is to keep building clarity around who you serve, why they buy from you, and how you can better bring value to their lives.

Brandastic is a digital marketing and advertising agency with offices in Orange CountyLos Angeles and Austin. We work with companies to enhance their SEO and digital marketing, branding and customer reach. Reach out to us today about stepping up your online marketing game.

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