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Which is Better for You: Direct Marketing or Indirect Marketing?

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Last week I sent an email with a link to Ode to Joy.

Ode to Joy is from Beethoven's 4th movement of his 9th symphony, considered one of the top three symphonies ever created.

It was a short 5-minute rendition. It is beautiful and evocative – listen to it again. (Link below.) Plus, its performance was a masterpiece.

But it was actually an ad.

It was a brilliant advertisement for a Spanish Bank. It was promoting Sabadell Bank's 130th year anniversary in 2012. According to one website, it has had 90 million views since 2012, while another posted in 2015 has received over 18 million views.

That is a lot of exposure. But does it generate new business?

This type of advertising is called brand marketing, or what I call indirect marketing. It is the opposite of direct marketing. Direct marketing, also called direct response marketing, tries to generate an immediate response. Knowing the differences will help you manage your marketing and make it more effective for your particular situation.

Direct Marketing

The goal of direct response marketing is to generate qualified prospects that respond to an offer. When you receive a card in the mail that promotes a free dinner about retirement funds, the company that sent you that mailer hopes you reply and attend the dinner and accompanying talk. At the dinner, a speaker gives a presentation with the hope of scheduling you for a private consultation later that week. When you see an ad on Facebook for a free manual, the advertisers intend that you respond and order their manual. The distinguishing characteristic of direct marketing is numbers – you can quantify the results of your marketing efforts.

Indirect Marketing

The goal for indirect, or brand marketing, is for the name of your business to be well known and well thought of. When you volunteer at the local food bank, co-sponsor a kid's little league team, or simply provide excellent customer service, these are all examples of indirect marketing. The results of indirect marketing are difficult to identify immediately.

Until you are in Stage 4 in the growth of your business (about 75% or more full capacity), most of your marketing efforts should be direct marketing. Indirect marketing supports direct marketing, but even if your entire town knew about your business and thought highly of it, there is no guarantee that anyone would come to see you as a customer.

Handing out your business card to someone would be an example of indirect, personal brand building. However, handing out your business card with a handwritten note on the back that said something like “N/C screening in May for Joe M. Dr. EP” might be an example of a direct response marketing.

Marketing Mix – Direct, Indirect, and Internal, External

Another factor to consider in managing your marketing is how much should be directed externally – to non-patients and customers and how much should be directed internally to your existing and former patients and customers.

It has been my experience that too few practices are industrious enough with marketing to and communicating with their existing and former patients.

Below is a chart that gives approximate percentages of how to balance your direct and indirect marketing for your practice. I have divided the development of a business arbitrarily into 5 Stages. Figure each Stage to be about 20% your full capacity.

Telling your story and the successes of your services should never end, regardless of how successful you are. Change your marketing strategies depending at what Stage of development your business is in -- but keep marketing.

Carpe Posterum (Seize the Future),


Ode to Joy article

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