Some marketing activities that are considered "indirect" are SEO, content marketing, referral programs, and reviews. The common theme is that indirect marketing addresses a large audience with a message that doesn't directly promote your business. We've previously discussed how indirect marketing can help your business and various indirect marketing methods. In this post, we'll look at the benefits and challenges of running indirect campaigns.
Benefits of indirect marketing
Large potential audience
Activities like social media marketing and referral programs appeal to a large group of people. This group may include your ideal audience, but it may also include others who may not know about you. By addressing more individuals, you have a higher chance of growing your brand awareness and identifying new target audiences. You can then use this information to drive future campaigns.
Short execution times
Indirect marketing activities require low initial investment. Whether you're on a budget or just have a smaller team, you can still run your campaigns successfully. For example, for activities like content marketing and social media, you don't need to gather a lot of user data or conduct in-depth field research to get started.
Extended brand messaging
Indirect marketing often involves creating content and material that addresses big-picture needs rather than just promoting your products. For example, consider Calm, the meditation app. They promote the benefits of meditation, centring their marketing around developing healthy mindsets. This, in turn, lets them develop a brand message bigger than the app itself. Today, Calm isn't just an app that helps you sleep. It's also a global thought leader in mindfulness. Indirect marketing shows to your audience that you have a vested interest in improving their lives through more than just your product or service. Coca-Cola does this effectively with their happiness-themed promotions and Nike with their sports-focussed campaigns.
Subtle and less intrusive
The premise for all indirect marketing is that you're available for your audience when they need you. Your blogs, social channels, loyalty programs, and reviews all focus on building a trustworthy brand presence that'll help customers when they want guidance. Since you don't approach them directly, it's a less intrusive form of marketing than direct marketing activities like cold calling and promotional emails.
Indirect marketing is the equivalent of taking the long route. Even though you can initiate your activities relatively quickly, it may take a while before you see significant results. The best example of this is blogging. You can start a blog within an hour for less than $50, but it may take between 12 and 18 months before you can start capitalising on your blog content. However, during that time, you'll also establish your credibility and emerge as a reliable brand—which can be challenging to achieve through direct marketing alone.
Challenges of indirect marketing
Social media and search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to deliver better outcomes for their users. Although a better user experience is welcoming, it also makes it difficult for businesses to optimise their marketing activities so that they comply with algorithmic changes. For example, in the early 2000s, SEO wasn't reader-friendly. Web pages with the most uses of a keyword ranked highly in search results. As a result, businesses adopted "keyword stuffing," a practice where you insert keywords even if they aren't necessary to make a coherent paragraph. Now, search engines are more advanced. They detect and even penalise keyword-stuffed pages. When this change first took effect, many businesses couldn't change their web pages quickly enough to comply with the new guidelines.
Even though indirect marketing is a long-term path, not every business can afford to wait 1 to 2 years to benefit from their campaigns. For example, businesses with strong competition need to establish their place in the market rather quickly or risk losing their position. In such situations, it may not be realistic to rely solely on indirect marketing activities.
Activities like content and social media marketing require consistent effort and dedication. Some businesses may find it challenging to allocate resources and time for such activities. For instance, small businesses with 3 to 5 employees have a lot of operational tasks to deal with on a daily basis. It may be impossible for them to prioritise multiple social media channels and a blog.
In many ways, indirect marketing can help you grow your business and establish yourself as a market leader. However, it can also be demotivating to run campaigns when you can't see results right away. That's why you should complement your indirect marketing campaigns with direct marketing efforts. For example, consider your sales representative calling up potential customers. During the call, they can discuss your product and then guide your audience to your blogs or ebooks to learn more. This gives your audience more opportunities to evaluate your products, even if they aren't initially convinced during the cold call.
We hope this post gives you a clear understanding of how you can use indirect marketing campaigns in your business. Based on your industry and the size of your business, some activities may be more suitable than others. We recommend that you research and experiment to discover what works best for you.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future topics, let us know in the comments and we'll address them as soon as we can!