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Brand Marketing Vs Direct Marketing - Why You Need to Know the Difference

You may have heard the terms ‘brand marketing’ and ‘direct marketing’ but you’re slightly confused about what the difference is between the two. You might also be wondering which you need for your business. 

Marketing as a whole and knowing what strategy to implement for your business can be confusing. So, in this article, we will discuss brand marketing vs direct marketing, why it’s important to know the difference, which is more effective, which would work for your business and how you can get started. 

Let’s get into it!

What we will cover in this article

Brand marketing vs direct marketing what is the difference?

Simply put brand marketing is about trying to connect and build your audience without directly selling to them. Direct marketing is more about getting your offering right in front of your target audience, most of the time before they even know who you are. 

Brand marketing is about getting in front of your audience in different ways such as content marketing, email, TV, social media etc. However, you’re not necessarily trying to sell to them. You’re trying to get them to start recognising your brand. For instance, they might start associating certain colours, sounds and emotions with your brand. 

Direct marketing on the other hand involves getting in front of a very specific audience that you think would want to buy your products or services. This is more than often done through paid ads such as social media ads or catalogues. You know the people you need to get in front of, so therefore you know which magazines your adverts need to be in, or what demographics your social media ads need to focus on. 

Brand marketing is much harder to measure in the sense that you’re not directly chasing sales and leads. Your goal might be more sales and leads but you cannot know if someone that came across your brand 3 months ago has bought from you today because of that first, second, third, fourth etc encounter!

Direct marketing is easier to measure. Once you have optimised your ads you should know how much you need to spend on ads per customer. You will know for example when someone clicks on your ads, how much it cost per click, how many times your ad is clicked on before someone usually buys, and therefore you can work out your conversion rate.

What is the difference between direct marketing and indirect marketing?

Indirect marketing is just different terminology for brand marketing. It means you are indirectly marketing to your target audience. You are not directly targeting people to sell to. You’re trying to get in front of as many of the right people as possible over a long period of time through different touchpoints. 

What is considered brand marketing?

Good brand marketing is about understanding your audience. It’s about understanding their:

  • Wants 
  • Needs
  • Problems
  • Desires
  • Struggles
  • Frustrations
  • What keeps them up at night
  • Lifestyle
  • Circumstances

Once you understand this you can create content that speaks to them. You want your content to resonate with them. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

Brand marketing can be many different channels such as:

  • SEO
  • Social media 
  • Content marketing
  • Email
  • TV
  • Billboards
  • Books

Brand marketing is communication. It’s getting your message out to the people that want to hear it. Brand marketing grows your brand into an asset. 

Brand marketing is also about helping your audience identify your company through many different means and not just through a logo or name

direct marketing vs traditional brand marketing
Direct marketing vs traditional brand marketing

What is considered direct marketing?

Direct marketing again relies on you understanding your audience just like brand marketing does. However, how you deliver your message will be different. 

Whichever method you choose:

  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Fliers
  • Newsletters
  • Postcards
  • Coupons
  • Emails
  • Targeted online display ads
  • Phone calls
  • Text messages

You’re targeting a very specific audience and trying to get them to take direct action as a result of your marketing. 

How much marketing should be brand marketing vs direct marketing?

The simple answer is it depends. It depends on many factors:

  • Your company’s size
  • How new/old is your company
  • What your budget is
  • How much time you have
  • What you’re trying to market
  • The goals for your company

In most cases, the vast majority of companies focus almost entirely on direct marketing. Is it the right thing to do though? No. Never put your eggs in one basket. Don’t become over-reliant on one way of marketing.

You should start with brand marketing as early as possible as well as direct marketing. Brand marketing is a long-term strategy and in the long run, it will pay off. 

Direct Marketing vs Branding. Are they even meant to be separated?

In an ideal situation, brand marketing and direct marketing should work in tandem. Brand marketing gets you noticed; it’s got you on your target audience’s radar. This then makes direct marketing easier if people are already familiar with your brand. 

Furthermore, if people know, like and trust you through your brand marketing efforts it’s highly likely that your direct marketing campaigns will convert higher. 

By understanding the difference, you can deliver the right content that works together. For example, you could create informational content surrounding one of your products. The information you’re giving them will answer any queries they have, address any doubts and help solidify that this is the solution they need. This person is then highly likely to make a purchase when presented with your direct marketing campaign. 

Unfortunately, people often don’t know the difference between brand marketing and direct marketing, so therefore they either just do one or they do not think about how the two can work together. 

Why is direct marketing more effective than indirect?

It’s not. People believe it to be because direct marketing is easier to measure and prove what kind of return on investment they’re getting from it. 

In my opinion, you can’t say which is more effective than the other. You just need to know what is more suited to your business at the time. 

As mentioned before direct marketing is easier to measure. You should be able to work out how much you need to spend to get x number of sales or leads. Brand marketing (indirect marketing) isn’t so simple. 

Take SEO for example. We can see how many searches a keyword gets per month, that keyword can then be targeted. We can then work out the average percentage of people that are likely to click through to your website once you’re on page 1, and then the average conversion rate. These are all just estimates though. 

We can also look at the amount of traffic your site gets, what pages people land on, forms filled out etc through tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These tools give us valuable data and much of this will show us that our brand marketing efforts are working, however, we won’t be able to pinpoint the exact number of sales and leads it generates like you can with direct marketing. 

What is the role of branding in marketing?

Branding is about giving your business identity. It’s about conveying to your audience who you are and what you’re about. This should also transfer across into any other type of marketing you do. Marketing gets your branding seen by the right people who will remember it. 

Your brand strategy will play a big part in your marketing.

  • Establish your business goals long and short term
  • Establish your values, why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • Identify your audience
  • How will you position yourself in the marketplace?
  • What message do you want to get across?
  • What’s your brand name, logo and tag line?

The difference between your brand strategy and your marketing strategy is your branding is what your audience is seeing and consuming. Whereas your marketing strategy is how you deliver your branding and message to your audience. 

Are TV ads direct marketing?

TV ads can be either direct marketing or brand marketing, as it depends on the delivery of the ad and the message of the ad. However, generally, they are more direct marketing. 

Television ads allow you to target a specific audience, for instance, if you know what programmes people are watching you can start to build up an idea of the demographics of that audience, and then advertise products and services that would fit the current audience. Again, as with all direct marketing, you can track the response you get. 

Is social media direct marketing? 

Social media again can be either direct marketing or brand marketing depending on how and what message you’re trying to deliver. Social media allows you to run ads to very specific groups of people and place ads right in front of them. 

Alternatively, social media allows you to create regular content and share content that over time people come to enjoy and recognise as yours or represents your brand. 

You can simultaneously run ads promoting your products or service as well as create useful content.

direct response advertising vs branding
Direct response advertising vs branding

What are the limitations of online marketing?

One of the main downsides to online marketing is how accessible it is and therefore how saturated it is. But most industries are also saturated with average or below average products and services. Industries and niches are never saturated for companies offering above average products and services. With online marketing being so accessible there is a lot more competition around the world. 

To be above average online marketing requires continuous learning. Online marketing changes very quickly. For example, if SEO is a strategy you choose to use you will need to stay up to date with the latest Google algorithm changes. If you don’t you could find yourself implementing tactics Google does not like and subsequently, your website could take a hit.

Online marketing is harder to connect with people. There is less emotion online unlike when you’re speaking to someone face to face. This could make it harder to connect with your target audience and take longer for them to trust you and your brand. Having said that, video content does give a more personal and human touch to any marketing campaign. 

Conclusion: Who wins in a fight: direct marketing vs. branding marketing

So, there you have it brand marketing vs direct marketing! You should now be clear that the best brand marketing and direct marketing strategies should work in tandem together. 

Brand marketing is delivering your brand to someone across many channels. You’re trying to get people to know like and trust your business. Whereas direct marketing you’re putting your offer right in front of a specific group of people who you have identified as people that would be interested in your offering. 

Brand marketing is hard to measure because you’re not directly going after sales and leads, you’re trying to attract an audience to you. Direct marketing is easier to measure and you should be able to work out how much you need to spend to get a good return. Many people will say direct marketing is more effective than brand marketing but that simply is not true, it’s just that you can see more clearly what you’re getting from direct marketing. 

Your branding and your branding strategy is the foundation of your campaigns. You set out your mission, who you will help and how you will position yourself in the marketplace etc.  

Social media and TV ads can be both brand marketing and indirect marketing, but it mainly depends on how you deliver your message and what your message is. 

Lastly online marketing has its limitations, such as how saturated it is and also how quickly it moves. Every industry is saturated with mediocre products and services. However, nothing is ever saturated with good quality products and services. Keep on top of the latest news and tactics and implement them at a high level and you will be above average. 

Now you just need to decide what is right for you. Maybe you’re already doing some kind of direct marketing or brand marketing. Now you should be able to differentiate between the two and have a clearer idea of how they can work together most effectively.

If brand marketing is something you want to get started with or need some advice on, why not get in touch today and we can discuss how search engine optimisation can help with your business.

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