Direct and Indirect Marketing: which one leads to quicker results?

1. What is direct and indirect marketing?

Direct and indirect marketing are marketing channels used by marketers to inform about a product or service and establish communication with their customers.

Smith & Taylor, 2005 defines direct marketing as the distribution of information, products, or services through any advertising medium that invites the individual to respond directly to the advertiser.

Indirect marketing is the process of communicating brand cues after developing recognition as a brand through direct marketing tools.” as Shehzadi, et al. (2010) states.

For instance, PPC campaigns are part of direct marketing being designed to bring into the attention of potential customers a product or service to be purchased online.

If the public buys the product advertised online, it depends on the advertiser and the way the ad is built and the message communicated.

Indirect marketing, part of the promotional mix, brings companies’ products in front of their consumers by using: word of mouth, social media, newsletters, videos, e-books, or PR.

Marketers use indirect marketing after they made the brand known to the public through direct marketing and wish to maintain its interest alive, attain customer satisfaction and build loyalty.

2. Why is direct marketing helpful for marketers?

Organizations see direct marketing as an important element of marketing communication. It is used to connect with customers, find out their opinions, impressions about a specific product, sell and improve it for total customer satisfaction.

To beat the competition, marketers keep an eye on customers’ responses and suggestions about the product. They assess target market feedback to make the right decision about product improvement.

However, to attract and retain customers, companies have to provide affordable and quality products/services and implement sales promotion strategies such as discounts or BOGOF (buy one, get one free). They connect customers emotionally with products to build and maintain strong relationships with them.

Door-to-door selling could be an efficient selling technique for companies acting in a particular domain, as NGO’s for example.

Potential customers can be approached face-to-face, in a psychological manner by the salesperson who has the freedom to adapt the speech according to the individual’s reactions and responses.

Direct marketing involves advertising methods that support the selling process:

1. Door-to-door selling
2. Interactive consumer websites
3. Telephone selling
4. Indoor & outdoor advertising
5. Online display ads
6. Catalog distribution
7. Yellow pages online & offline
8. Promotional letters
9. Mobile messaging
10. TV home-shopping channels
11. Rdio advertisement
12. Newspaper/magazines advertising
13. Fliers
14. Direct mail

3. What is the difference between direct and indirect marketing?

There is a big difference between direct and indirect marketing even if they can sustain each other. But when you combine the two in your marketing strategy, you can reap their advantages for your business growth.

Through direct marketing or direct selling, marketers interact directly with the target market to convey a specific message about a new company/product/service and foster a positive behavioral response from the audience.

It is about advertising and the techniques used that the message can reach the target audience, trigger its buying behavior and generate income for the organization.

While direct marketing involves two-way communications with consumers, indirect marketing means passive and one-way messages to a target audience.

And because the public responds better to direct marketing, marketers gain results through lead generation. feedback, conversion rates, etc.

Google Analytics provides data about organic/paid campaigns, useful reports about the site’s visitors and how engaged they are with the products/services/content.

In this way, companies can assess easily brand awareness and recognition among customers.

When approaching indirect marketing activity, marketers use symbolic representations to get customers familiar with their brands, ‘position’ them in their minds and stimulate buying desire.

4. Symbolic representations of indirect marketing:

Celebrity endorsement
Music (jingle)
Design (package, shop)

In some cases, customers can be more responsive to indirect marketing than direct marketing. This can happen because people become aware of the marketer’s intentions such as cold calling, online/offline ads, or direct mail.

Hence, most of them see these as annoying approaches and refuse to be psychologically manipulated by ads.


To get to know the audience and decide which methods to implement (direct or indirect marketing or both simultaneously), marketers need to conduct market research both offline and online.

By testing interesting strategies and exploring different possibilities, marketers will know which channel – direct or indirect marketing – can provide the best results.

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