Do you ever get annoyed when commercial ads interrupt your favorite TV show? Or your social media account is bombarded by different promotional ads? Well, this is a common thing nowadays. With fearsome competition among brands, every business is trying to promote its brand identity at all possible channels.
However, this often irritates your target audience if you just keep “spamming” them with your blind promotional ads. So, what can be a good alternative? Well, one simple and pretty effective way to do it is “Indirect Marketing.” Does that sound a little unfamiliar? Let’s find out what is it.
What is Indirect Marketing?
Indirect marketing is simply a more value-driven marketing type that focuses on promoting your brand, products, or services without being “promotional.” That means the basic marketing reason is to attract your potential customers with a gentle approach.
Traditionally, the marketing objective of every business is to reach its target customers directly. For instance, brands run their ads, send newsletters, email campaigns (email marketing), direct mail, etc.
On the contrary, indirect marketing is a different type of marketing that focuses on indirect channels of marketing such as
- Social media
- Referrals or word-of-mouth
and other similar marketing channels. It won’t be wrong to say that indirect marketing can be termed as free marketing as well. So, how is indirect marketing different from direct marketing? Let’s find out.
Difference Between Indirect Marketing and Direct Marketing
The idea behind these two marketing strategies is the same- lead generation and profitable customers. However, the approach is different in both forms of marketing. Here are some differences between direct and indirect marketing:
|Direct Marketing||Indirect Marketing|
|This marketing strategy mainly focuses on selling products or services through ads (video marketing), email campaigns, etc.||This type of marketing mainly focuses on educating potential customers, creating brand awareness, and developing relationships with them.|
|Direct marketing involves interacting with your leads or potential customers directly.||Indirect marketing is more of a lead generation process in which the brands focus on being found by the leads.|
|It mostly uses expensive marketing channels.||This form of marketing is relatively more cost-effective.|
|Direct marketing strategies are mostly short-term.||Indirect marketing is a long-term marketing channel because it focuses on educating potential customers.|
|Tracking your marketing performance is a lot easier.||It is very difficult to track the performance of indirect marketing strategies.|
|Direct marketing allows you more personalization. For instance, you can send personalized emails to your potential customers.||This marketing doesn’t give you the luxury of personalization. Rather, it is more generic.|
|It is easier to measure the ROI (return on investment).||Indirect marketing is a marketing strategy where it is difficult for brands to accurately measure the ROI.|
Types of Indirect Marketing with Examples
There are several types of indirect marketing that serve different marketing purposes but here some of the most common of them:
Content marketing is simply value-added content creation to entertain, inform, or educate your potential customers rather than selling your product or service directly. If a brand can produce value-added content, it not only educates people but also helps in lead generation.
Content marketing is also a great way to educate your existing customers as well. The basic theme is to give valuable solutions to your existing as well as potential customers. It makes a brand look more empathetic towards its customers. Some common examples of content marketing include:
- Blogging/blog posts
- Video content
- Free tools
- Live events
“Facebook For Media” is an informative blog from Facebook Inc. which educates users with the latest researches and other informative content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It is a form of marketing that goes in hand-to-hand with the content marketing of any business. Search engine optimization is basically making your content or website available in Google’s top searches. But, you have to create unique, value-added, and problem-solving content to get yourself up there.
Yes, there are several other technical aspects to address, such as on-page optimization and off-page optimization. But, if you are providing valuable and to-the-point content, you can easily rank your blog or website. Search engine optimization allows you to reach maximum users locally and globally as well. In fact, currently, no digital marketing strategy is complete without search engine optimization.
For instance, someone searches for “top fast-food brands in California.” Now, if you run a fast-food chain in California and your blog or website comes in top searches, you are defiantly in a line to convert a potential customer into an actual customer.
Public Relations (PR)
It is simply impossible for a brand to succeed without gaining customers’ trust. In fact, if you succeed to feature in something trustworthy with good reasons; your credibility increases automatically. You need to interact with the public; you need to build credible relations with people in order to sell your product or service.
That is why PR is a very effective indirect marketing tool that can be a booster for your marketing campaigns. If you regularly feature in local, national, or internal publications/news due to good reasons, you are generating new customers without much marketing efforts. Apart from that, a brand can partner with other businesses to increase its PR.
For instance, Netflix and Lyft joined hands to boost their PR. The objective was to create something exciting and boost the customer-experience without sounding obvious in marketing terms.
Social media is probably the most cost-effective indirect marketing channel. It not only allows you to stay in touch with your customers, but you can convert leads into your customers as well. The best thing about social media is it is totally free.
However, the key to success on social media is to share value-added content regularly. If someone likes your content and share on their profile, it is absolutely free marketing. In fact, many businesses share their customers’ experiences on their social media profiles.
For instance, a famous Innocent Smoothies reposts content created by their customers, which mostly includes video content. This not only increases customer loyalty but is a great way to create brand awareness totally free of cost.
Some of the most commonly used social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Whatsapp, Quora, etc.
Referrals are simply “free marketing.” That said, word-of-mouth marketing is way more authoritative than many other marketing tools. However, you can only make your client refer your products or services to someone else if you exceed their expectations. In fact, if you can get a referral from an influencer, it will be the icing on the cake.
Brands nowadays launch referral programs to attract new customers. For instance, PayPal offers different rewards to its current customers if they refer PayPal to their friends, colleagues, etc. You may be surprised to hear that PayPal witnessed 7-10 percent daily growth due to their referral programs and helped them hit over 100 million customers.
Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives
It is pretty difficult to impress generation Z and millennial, as they don’t like “feeding” money to businesses whose primary motive is to make money. Therefore, businesses are now bound to initiate social welfare causes to make a positive difference.
If a brand can convince its customers or potential customers regarding its social responsibility initiatives, it can get a lot of support from people and attract investors.
Toms Shoe Company is one of the best examples of corporate social initiatives. The company donates a pair of shoes to a deserving impoverished child every time they make a sale. This differentiated indirect marketing strategy helped them stand out in an already saturated market.
Advantages of Indirect Marketing
Indirect marketing brings a lot to the table, and here are some of the benefits of indirect marketing.
- Provision of Value-Added Content. Indirect marketing basically educates your potential customers and generates leads through empathy and problem-solving content. When you talk about people’s problem and their solutions, they are easily attracted to you.
- Cost-Effective. It is arguably the most cost-effective form of marketing. In fact, several indirect marketing types are completely free.
- Long-Term Strategy. It is a long-term marketing strategy, and your content never gets outdated. For instance, your value-added blog posts will be useful for a long time.
Disadvantages of Indirect Marketing
Following are the drawbacks of indirect marketing.
- No Performance Track. Well, you cannot track the results of your indirect marketing strategy because such strategies target a wider audience, and keeping track is almost impossible.
- No Instant Results. It is a marketing tool that generally takes a long time to yield results. It educates customers and then makes up their minds to buy your product or services.
- It Requires Consistency. As it is a long-term strategy, brands have to be very consistent to effectively utilize this marketing channel. They need to share informative and value-added content regularly.
So, we can summarize indirect marketing as:
- Cost-effective marketing strategy
- It helps in targeting a larger audience.
- Builds and strengthens the customer relationship
- Not a sales-driven strategy
- Works better when integrated with direct marketing strategies.