March 10, 2020

Indirect Marketing aka the Way to Build a Brand


You’re afraid that the more direct outreach you do the more spammy you appear. Every time you send a direct message to someone on LinkedIn asking them to buy your service, you feel like the most annoying salesman in the world. I assure you, there is a way to get past your fear. And this way is called Indirect marketing.


What is direct and indirect marketing?

Direct marketing is when you ask the customer to buy. It’s the traditional way of marketing when a business shows its product or service to the customers and inform them about how they can purchase.

On the other hand, indirect marketing is when you don’t directly market (or spam) your audience with your offer. It’s when you first get their attention by sending them something else (a friend request or an article) before exposing them to your product/service.

Direct and indirect marketing


  • Cold calling
  • Direct outreach
  • TV ads
  • Social media ads
  • Printed flyers
  • Door-to-door sales pitches


  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Online reviews
  • Partnerships with influencers

Direct marketing examples

Some direct marketing examples are cold calling, direct outreach, most of tv advertisements or an e-commerce product promoted on Facebook or Instagram.

Other direct marketing examples are printed flyers, door-to-door sales pitches or ads on YouTube or other video platforms.

In some instances, direct marketing can be aggressive. And nowadays customers will easily refer to direct marketing as spam.

For example, I was recently looking through online reviews (indirect marketing) of energy providers for my house.

I was able to find an overall great company (cheap, sustainable and with good customer service), but in almost all reviews customers were mentioning the same issue.

That this company is quite reliable, but their salesmen are pushy, spammy and annoying. This is an example were direct marketing (sales calls) interferes with indirect marketing (online reviews).

Websites and social media platforms are becoming more successful at combating spam. Because of this, indirect marketing came as the evolution of spam.

Indirect marketing examples

The most famous indirect marketing examples are content marketing, email marketing and social media marketing.

Other examples are search engine optimization (seo), online reviews and partnerships with Instagram influencers.

An example of social media marketing is owning (or just posting on) Facebook groups. A while ago I did free website reviews on my Facebook group. So, I helped a lot of people for free.

The result of this was that one person approached me and requested to hire me to implement my suggestions on their website.

Another great example is whiskey TV commercials.

In Dewar’s famous ‘Live True’ commercial we see individuals exercising their talent while living true to themselves. At the same time, we hear part of Charles Bukowski’s so you want to be a writer inspirational poem.

The goal of the commercial is to make you think that people who stay true to themselves drink Dewar’s whiskey.

But you only get to understand that the ad is about whiskey at the last 2 seconds when you see the Dewar’s logo. The rest of the ad could easily be a movie’s opening scene.

What are the advantages of indirect marketing?

So, let’s now see what the advantages of indirect marketing are and why you should use it in your business.

Low cost to implement

Generally, indirect marketing is cheaper than direct marketing. This is because in direct marketing most of the times you must pay for the placement of your advertisement somewhere (on the internet, tv or radio).

The above is not the case for indirect marketing, which is about building relationships. And you can’t start a relationship by asking someone to give you their money.

So, indirect marketing doesn’t entail big costs, especially if you’re a capable solopreneur who can do most of the stuff needed (seo, content & social media marketing) yourself.

Here’s the catch though… this marketing method is cheap only when you do most of it yourself. If you start outsourcing or hiring people to do seo, content marketing or social media marketing instead of doing it yourself, then costs can increase quickly.

It helps you build a brand with loyal customers

In indirect marketing you start your relationship with your prospects by giving some value and helping them for free. In some cases, you try to become friends with them.

And when your potential customers begin to trust you, then you can present your paid product or service. They may even ask you themselves whether you sell anything, if you have built a true relationship with them.

This marketing method helps you build authority, a unique identity. Especially content marketing is the only way you can prove you’re the expert in your field.

A photo of Robert Rose

"With traditional marketing, you tell people you’re a rock star. With content marketing, you show them you’re a rock star."

Robert Rose

Think about companies like Nike or Apple for example. Do they only sell clothing and hardware/software respectively?

They don’t. Nike, besides selling shoes, brands itself as a company that honors (and sponsors) great athletes.

Apple had (and maybe still has) a vision… to change the world for the better. That’s how brands are built.

It works in the long term

Indirect marketing requires your time, energy, perseverance and patience. It’s a long-term game.

You do the work now (by helping your clients and creating content for them), so as you can enjoy a relationship that can last for many years.

You don’t aim to sell now. Your goal is to build a strong foundation which will bring you clients (and retain them) in the future.

Direct vs indirect marketing: What to use?

So, that’s it? Is indirect marketing the only way forward? Let’s see… despite the advantages of indirect marketing I just mentioned, some disadvantages exist as well.

First, it’s hard to measure the efficiency of indirect marketing. It also, doesn’t bring instant cash flow to your business.

Direct marketing, on the other hand, can fix these issues, because most of the times it’s measurable. For example, when you’re running an online ad, you can see the metrics (clicks, conversions, click through rate etc.).

Direct marketing also gets you quick sales, which is something that start-up companies are desperate for.

That’s why you should use both direct and indirect marketing, if your budget allows you to.

What’s your experience with indirect marketing? Are you using any type of indirect marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy? Let’s start the discussion in the comments below.

Until next time.

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About the author 

Manos Syngarefs

I am a child of God, that loves gardening, growing my own food and trying to live as natural a life as possible. When I feel like I have something to say then I will write an article. I hope you enjoyed this one :)

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