Jul 26

Direct and Indirect Marketing: Key Differences and Common Types

Marketing is an essential part of every business, whether we’re talking about a well-established organisation or a startup.

Hence, it helps to categorise marketing activities based on your market and target.

For instance, direct marketing addresses your audience directly and its primary purpose is to make a sale or promote a product or service. Conversely, indirect marketing uses a broad messaging style that targets a wider audience and seeks to establish a brand rather than sell a product.

However, aside from these basic differences, there are key characteristics that further distinguish these equally important strategies.

Let’s take a look.

Key Differences Between Direct and Indirect Marketing

Conversation Style


Direct marketing uses a one-on-one conversation style since its goal is to communicate directly with the target audience.

However, indirect marketing favors a one-to-many approach because it targets a wider audience.

Messaging Type


Direct marketing is sales-focused while indirect marketing is education-focused. The former is considered narrow messaging since its ultimate goal is to boost sales. Meanwhile, the latter advocates a broader messaging style since its goals are less tangible (e.g., better branding, customer goodwill, etc).

ROI Results

ROI Results

Direct marketing usually has a faster ROI because it’s easier and faster to measure sales.

Indirect marketing, however, has a slower ROI because it takes more time to gain customer trust and engagement.

Use of Intermediaries


Direct marketing can do away with media outlets and online publications since it can directly reach its intended audience.

Indirect marketing, on the other hand, may involve partnerships with television channels, magazines, influencers, and more for a broader reach.

Sales Funnel

Sales Funnel

A short, well-defined sales funnel works well for most direct marketing approaches.

But indirect marketing requires a long sales funnel as well as corresponding evaluation times to see if it’s working as it should.

Ideal Market Type


If you already have an established product in an established market, it’s ideal to use a direct marketing approach to boost sales.

Meanwhile, indirect marketing is the way to go if you’re just entering a new market and you need to develop brand awareness.

Common Types of Direct and Indirect Marketing

What do the actual direct and indirect marketing activities look like? Here are just a few examples of each:

Direct Marketing Activities

Direct Marketing Activities

  • Telemarketing
  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail and postage
  • SMS and text messages
  • Direct selling

Indirect Marketing Activities


  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Influencer marketing
  • Royalty and rewards programs
  • Reviews


Simply put, direct marketing involves channels that are more personal and targeted to the chosen audience. Letters, text messages, telemarketing – these are all aimed at specific groups or segments of your overall target audience.

Indirect marketing, meanwhile, addresses the whole audience, whether you’re targeting them or not. Hence, businesses generally favor social media marketing as an indirect marketing approach.


Whichever approach you go with, either of them have specific roles to play in your marketing plan. Highlighting their key differences doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other. Rather, this just goes to show that each target and situation will require a different marketing mix.

Want to try out direct and indirect marketing, but not sure where to start? We’ve got you!

Remote Staff has been assisting more than 3,000 Australian SME’s and entrepreneurs for the last 15 years and counting with the help of our skilled remote workers from the Philippines. So when you need marketing experts to help you get started, we’ve always got you covered.

Call us today or schedule a call back and help us help you.


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Disclaimer: The above article was written according to the information available as of press time.
All opinions and beliefs expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Remote Staff's, its employees, subcontractors, clients, and affiliates.

About The Author

Serena has been working remotely and writing content for the better part of the last decade. To date, she's written for Pepper.ph and Mabuhay Magazine, among others, and has churned out more than a thousand articles on everything from The Basics of Stock Market Investing to How to Make Milk Tea-Flavored Taho at home. Hermits, aspiring hermits, and non-hermits with interesting project propositions may email her at serena.estrella10@gmail.com.

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