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Everything You Never Knew You Needed to Know About Indirect Marketing

Although there is a ton of information out there about the different types of marketing tools and vehicles, a lot of people breeze right past the basics of concepts like direct and indirect marketing. 

Sure, you’ve probably seen or heard the terms, but what do they mean? Does it matter?

First of all, it absolutely matters. 

As for what they mean, in this guide, we’ll take care of explaining everything that you need to know about indirect marketing, including what it is, how it works, and how it can benefit your business. We’ll even discuss DIY marketing versus hiring professionals to help you get educated so that you can create your best marketing strategies or find the people who can. 

The most important thing to know about indirect marketing, and the entire reason that we’ve put together this guide, is that it will be your key to success. Today’s consumers want relationships, not sales pitches. Indirect marketing is your answer. 

People typically get confused at the point where they realize that both types of marketing (and all marketing, really) have the same goal: to sell a product or service. But, you can sell a lot of things without actually “selling” anything at all. 

What is Indirect Marketing?

Indirect marketing is as simple as marketing to people in a way that doesn’t actually “sell” them anything. Think of this more like building a relationship than trying to generate a sale. Everyone knows that you want to sell a product or service. However, what they don’t know is why they should buy that product or service from you. 

In the past, this explanation was typically offered in the form of a sales pitch. However, marketing pros quickly realized that there was a need for a more subtle approach. 

Indirect marketing offers that approach. 

Indirect marketing allows you to showcase your brand, explain to people what you do, and build relationships with them so that they feel comfortable working with you. This is about building that relationship and that sense of trust with your audience, first and foremost, and then your “sales” will come naturally. 

One of the best things about indirect marketing is that while it takes time to get results, it gives you a lot more options. You’ll have different avenues to reach people and different ways to make connections than if you were just out there trying to make sales all day long. 

There are several different types of indirect marketing out there and some will be more successful than others for your various campaigns. However, before we get into the details of that too much, let’s go over some basics. 

Below, you’ll find some examples of indirect marketing to help you get a better grasp on the concept, as well as information on direct vs. indirect marketing, how you can use indirect marketing, it’s benefits, and whether you need professional marketing assistance or not (Spoiler alert: you do). 

Examples of Indirect Marketing

The best way to learn something is usually by example. After all, while we could explain all day the different types of indirect marketing and how they can be used, it’s much easier to show you the actual tools or parts of your campaign that are considered “indirect”

For starters, let’s talk about the hot trend these days– social media. Technically, unless you’re posting hard sales pitches on your social media accounts, these are forms of indirect marketing. It allows people to get to know your brand on a more personal level and gives them a semblance of what you have to offer, but never actually forces them into choosing to buy. 

Social media is currently the most popular form of indirect marketing, used as a part of search engine optimization efforts and brand visibility insights. 

Other examples of indirect marketing include:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Content marketing
  • PR 
  • Referrals and customer reviews
  • Forums, comments, and conversations on social media and other platforms

Basically, if you’re reaching out to people, but your intent isn’t to directly sell them something, you’re on the indirect marketing road. 

Direct vs. Indirect Marketing

Under the marketing umbrella, methods typically fall under one of two categories: direct or indirect. The two tactics are very different, and yet they may both have a place in your business. The secret is figuring out the ideal balance. 

Whereas indirect marketing focuses on just getting people to notice and know your brand, direct marketing is blatantly asking people to buy something. 

Some mediums can take on both forms– for example, it’s less about the medium than about what you use that forum to say. If your blog is informational and authoritative, it’s indirect marketing. If you post a blatant sales pitch on your otherwise innocuous Facebook page, that’s going to be perceived as direct marketing. Even though social media is typically considered a form of indirect marketing, it may not always be used as such. 

One thing to bear in mind– regardless of the approach, both of these methods are based on the exact same factor: communication. 

Without proper communication, misunderstandings run rampant and business reputations are consistently put on the line. No matter whether you use direct marketing or indirect methods, make sure that you use the right medium to say the right thing and attract the right people. 

It may not be the most straightforward way to advertise, but indirect marketing is critical to the future success of your brand, and that’s mutually exclusive of direct marketing campaigns (which, by the way, you should also consider for a well-rounded marketing approach). 

How to Use Indirect Marketing

Once you learn about this process, it’s important to learn how to put it to work. People often struggle to develop strategies because it is hard to quantify and measure this method the same way that you can measure direct marketing costs and benefits. 

However, it’s a fairly simple tool to employ if you look at it from the right perspective. 

A solid strategy will combine several different methods of indirect marketing. You have to get creative and take advantage of all of the different avenues that you can use. Find ways to build trust with people and to increase your professional image as an authority in your industry. Things like this seem like small efforts, but they make all the difference. 

Using tools like search engine optimization, you can increase your brand image in the online world and help customers find you. At the same time, you can market to them without ever using a single sales pitch, and that can be an invaluable asset. 

After all, with today’s consumers, it’s all about building relationships and establishing brand trust and loyalty.

Is SEO Indirect Marketing?

If you were paying attention, this tool was mentioned on the list of examples. 

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is absolutely considered a method of indirect marketing. In fact, it’s one of the most popular and effective options out there. SEO allows businesses to optimize their website and their off-page content to reach the ideal target audience and ensure that their brand is visible, believed to be reputable, and considered an authority within their industry. 

If you use search engine optimization effectively, it can be the pillar of a strong indirect marketing campaign. Many aspects of the optimization process themselves are further extensions of indirect approaches to marketing– think about the content marketing that you do or the email newsletters you send. 

Those social media posts that are optimized for keywords and direct people back to your blog? 100% indirect marketing. 

The only time the line gets a little blurry is when it comes to what you’re saying in your optimized content or indirect marketing messages. If it’s too close to a sales pitch, it’s probably going to be called a foul. That can tarnish your reputation in ways that you can’t imagine, so avoid it at all costs. 

That’s not to say that you can’t use indirect channels to promote direct marketing messages. You just have to be very careful about it. This is where it can come in handy to work with a professional. 

Build Better Relationships with Indirect Marketing

One of the biggest points that we’ve hit in this discussion is the importance of relationship building. 

Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold something. They don’t want to be forced to listen to the over-rehearsed pitch that died 20 years ago on some outdated salesfloor. They want to get to know their options. They want to feel like they’re a part of something and that they matter to our business as much as you matter to them. 

Indirect marketing is the perfect medium to build those relationships. Think of all of the examples we discussed above– SEO, social media, content marketing– these are all perfect tools to reach out and connect with people, share information, and not have to “sell” anything. 

That’s exactly what people want, which is why it works, and why we’re discussing the importance of indirect marketing for your business. 

How do you build relationships with indirect marketing? Here are a few ideas:

  • Post helpful links and news articles that are industry-related. This will show people that you’re serious about giving them the information and assistance that they need whether they buy from you or not. 
  • Offer your own original content that is also informative, authoritative, and solves a problem or offers information and education for your audience. Again, it’s all about giving them something for nothing. 
  • Share business milestones and successes on social media. Let people keep up with your company as it grows over time so they can feel like they do have that personal connection with your brand. 

Tools like social media and the social nature of the Internet in general make it easier for you to achieve these goals. However, you still have to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. 

5 Companies That are Winning with Indirect Marketing

Although we could talk all day about how indirect marketing works, why it works, and what it can do for your business, sometimes the best way to learn is by example. As with laying out the types of indirect marketing channels above, we want to share with you some of the companies that are excelling when it comes to indirect marketing campaigns and tactics. 

After all, as they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. 

Take a look at the companies below and how they’re making the most of indirect marketing campaigns to foster a much larger audience and build a solid image of authority and credibility within their industry. 

Moody’s Analytics

This investor financial service and research company has made itself absolutely invaluable to its audience. It has even done it without asking for a thing in return. The “value” isn’t always monetary, and for Moody’s establishing their place as THE authority in the industry is more valuable than anything.

What are they doing? Just offering finance courses and education for consumers, reminding everyone on a regular basis that they really are the most knowledgeable authority within their field. 


Scholastic has been around for decades, and even though today’s kids might not appreciate the nostalgia of the newsprint catalogs sent home from school, everyone can appreciate what the website is doing. 

Scholastic has teamed up with Pinterest, incorporating the tool into their own website so that they can share things with their audience. But they also have boards where visitors can put their own ideas, creating a sort-of visual dialogue between the consumer and the brand. It’s ingenious, interactive, and getting noticed. 


While people might not think that a mouthwash brand can dominate online marketing, you should really think again. This brand is doing it, and doing it well. The company has been a long-time proponent of making big claims about its product, and it did so prior to 2005 by running a very short-lived campaign designed to convince people that mouthwash could replace flossing. 

There were some lawsuits and legal difficulties involved here, but ultimately the campaign was a success. In a short period of time, the brand made a name for itself by getting people to think that mouthwash was as important to their oral health as things that dentists recommend. 

Today’s they’re still one of the leading brands of mouthwash on the market. 


Toms Shoe Company is unique in that its entire business model is built on indirect marketing and a different approach to success. After all, the company has a huge focus on social responsibility and philanthropy. 

Although you don’t really want to spoil the idea that Toms donates eyewear and shoes to children in over 70 countries around the world with marketing, the fact is that philanthropy is a great indirect marketing tool

After all, what builds your brand and gets attention from potential customers better than giving back without asking for anything in return? Toms simply looks at it like this: people have to buy shoes. If you buy from them, you’re helping provide shoes to kids in other countries too. You get new shoes, a good feeling, and the company gets to continue doing business. 

The Hustle 

If you’ve never heard of the Hustle, it’s about time you did. After all, they’re taking the boring parts out of marketing and engaging users with fun indirect marketing approaches. For example, signing up for their email newsletter will result in a chance for you to fill out a form that is preceded by a line that says “okay, you convinced me”. 

They’re being funny. They’re making light of the marketing– everyone does it and everyone knows people get fed up with it. Why not make it fun? If you are able to turn your indirect marketing into a fun experience for everyone, it’s going to be much more successful. 

Just ask the staff at the Hustle how much their business and traffic is up since taking the humorous approach. Today’s consumers love the light-hearted things. 

These companies all have something different to offer and they are all taking a slightly different approach to indirect marketing. However, that’s precisely the point: they have taken the time to think about what is going to work best for them as a brand. While being cheeky might be good for an online newsletter like the Hustle, it might not be the best route for a company like Moody’s Analytics. 

What insight can you take from this? When planning indirect (or any) marketing efforts, make sure that what you do aligns with the nature and image of your company in order to get the best results. After all, how can you convince people to choose your brand when you don’t even know what that brand is or what it stands for?

Professional vs. DIY Indirect Marketing Strategies

Like all types of marketing and branding, indirect marketing is something that can be outsourced to professionals. Agencies are skilled in developing, implementing, and monitoring marketing strategies of all kinds, at all levels. This includes things like SEO, content creation, social media marketing, and so much more. 

Sure, you could attempt to get friendly and curate a marketing approach that is indirect but still effective on your own. This, however, could prove to take a lot of time and won’t always guarantee the best results. 

So, Can I Do My Own Marketing?

Some people assume that because of all of the available information on the Internet, they can learn everything that they need to know to become a self-proclaimed “expert” on marketing, SEO, and other services that are often best left to the professionals. 

Don’t oversell yourself here, though. It’s not a question of your intelligence, but the fact that the pros know how to get the best results and make the marketing strategies work for your business. 

People ask, often far too many times, if they can do their own marketing and set up their own indirect campaigns. This is tricky. 

However, once you have a solid strategy in place that was developed and implemented with the assistance of the pros, you can absolutely take a hand in some of your own indirect marketing efforts. 

You should never do it all on your own, though. The pros exist for a reason. 

The Value of Professional Marketing Solutions

Working with the pros gives you the chance to get the edge on the competition. It will keep you ahead of the game in terms of marketing strategies and effective campaigns. It will allow you to ensure that your marketing is on point in all formats, and all the while allow you to focus on other aspects of your business. 

One of the most useful marketing tools available today is considered a form of indirect marketing: SEO. Search engine optimization is a must for your business. If you haven’t yet, start there and start by enlisting the help of marketing pros who can give you the position that you deserve in your market. 

Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that kind of edge on the competition? If you’re ready to get better results or look at how you can improve your marketing with the assistance of professional marketing assistance, give us a call. We’ve been working with SEO and other indirect marketing solutions for a number of years and we know how to help you make the most of them for your brand. 

At Ranq, we’ll help you develop the perfect custom marketing solution, cindlugind irect and indirect marketing, SEO, and more. Tell us what you need, and we’ll tell you how we can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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Perrin Carrell

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