Direct vs Brand Marketing – What’s The Difference?

Choosing a Marketing Strategy

If you are unsure about which marketing tool to use for your business, a good starting point may be to consider the type of marketing that would be of the most benefit. There are many marketing strategies to choose from, however, there are two broader categories into which these fall: Direct and Brand Marketing.

The biggest question on every business owner’s mind is arguably how to most effectively and efficiently sell their product or service. Knowing how to do this seems the most obvious way to make money but how does one go about figuring out the answer to this question?

The list of marketing strategies, sometimes referred to as types of marketing, is so vast that a quick Google search will easily turn up hundreds of answers. From social media and promotional marketing to the often dreaded (particularly if you are a consumer) telemarketing, the list of options appears endless and can be rather daunting if you are trying to establish which marketing tools to use for your business. Let us dive into these two categories, see what the differences are, and what they can do for businesses.

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing, or Direct Response Marketing as it is sometimes called, is a category of marketing strategies that focuses on “calls to action”. These calls to action are aimed at guiding consumers to purchase the product or service on offer and are a short-term solution to drive sales. Limited time offers and discount codes are prime examples of this type of marketing tool. These drive consumers to act quickly on purchases to avoid “missing out”.

Direct marketing can come in many shapes and forms from YouTube advertisements to in-store competitions that require customers to make a purchase of a certain amount to qualify. There are no limits to what the strategies look like in practice as long as they meet the criteria of what Direct Marketing is.

The short-term nature of Direct Marketing strategies is what makes them so effective and efficient for businesses to use. Its focus on driving sales makes it a favourable option for many businesses not only because of the quick increase in revenue that Direct Marketing tends to generate, but because this makes its impact easy to measure.

While differences in sales numbers and in revenue generated mean that businesses can quickly and easily evaluate their marketing strategies, this type of marketing strategy also has its disadvantages. It is possible that over time, if used too frequently, Direct Marketing strategies can cause consumers to focus on the pricing of products and services rather than all the value propositions of a company.

Brand Marketing

In contrast, Brand Marketing is long-term oriented. These strategies focus on building a relationship with consumers through the business’s value propositions. The central idea of Brand Marketing is to communicate the value of the products or services offered by a particular company over those from others. Furthermore, these strategies also aim to communicate what the business’s values are and why they are worth supporting.

Brand positioning is the term used to describe how a business is perceived by consumers. Brand Marketing strategies help businesses achieve a good brand positioning by communicating attributes of the business that they believe would be desirable to their consumer base. The disadvantage to this of course is that it takes longer to communicate this information to consumers than simple product information.

Brand Marketing can take on different forms, focused not on calling consumers to action, but rather on creating a perception in the minds of consumers. This can be done by creating stores that have a consistent look and layout, staff uniforms, slogans, and logos. The same formats seen in Direct Marketing strategies can also be used but the intent is clearly different. For example, instead of an advert telling you about a sale, it would instead demonstrate the clothing brand’s commitment to sustainability.

Well-known author, Simon Sinek, in his Golden Circle Framework TED Talk, talks about the importance of businesses establishing their “why”. Sinek argues that if businesses can figure out “why they do what they do”, they can share this message with their consumers inspiring them to buy their products and services. The “why” arguably holds more value than simply telling consumers what you sell and hoping that they see value in a “thing”. 

Where to Place Focus

It is no surprise that businesses need a combination of Direct and Brand Marketing in their strategies. It is important that the differences between the two are understood in order to decide where to place focus. Businesses that need to quickly implement plans to generate revenue and to easily evaluate these plans should focus their efforts on Direct Marketing strategies. If businesses have more time and are wanting to ensure longevity, it is recommended that they place more emphasis on Brand Marketing.