A Rant on Direct Marketing Vs Brand Marketing

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I just finished Seth Godin’s latest book – This Is Marketing.

You know it is a good book when you’re sad on finishing it. It was a good journey. And I am pretty sure I would go back to that book again in the future.

In the chapter Reaching the Right People, there are parts about Direct Marketing Vs Brand Marketing. And how Lester Wunderman who apparently is the father of direct marketing was the first to describe the differences.

The fundamental difference he says is what happens after the ad. In direct marketing, the sale happens immediately and it should be measured rigorously. And with brand marketing, you are hoping to plant a seed in people’s heads. E.g. A billboard on the road side.

Now I feel like in my head, there is another apparent difference I have seen between brand and direct marketing. People who want to be or call themselves direct marketers mostly are short-term thinking, relatively more selfish and don’t care about their customers. They come from a place of extreme scarcity. They are always reading up about next set of tips and tricks to make the conversion. And they are willing to do… anything just to increase their numbers.

They have low ethical considerations, would write any type of copywriting. They usually claim they don’t want BS. Just stuff that works. Basically they don’t want to do anything remarkable, new, innovative. They just need to make money and don’t care how they make it.

It is the difference between people who create another McDonalds and the people are looking to become a franchisee of McDonalds.

I believe these people are just lazy to do the bigger things. Because deep down even though there are a lot of us who might want to make money, we are all doing it for loads of different reason. We all have a story which will connect with others (even if the story is selfish). The laziness also involves not willing to take risks.

They believe the marketing, business and ahem… brand (which is usually non-existing) will take off if they just knew the right tactics. It is all about tactics. Branding concepts don’t make sense to them. It is just BS, fluff and nonsense.


I realise this was just because I was attracting these people. I had learnt all my early lessons from direct marketing books and principles. I sold myself on increase conversions (only). I baited people to hire me only because I would double their sales / conversions and nothing else.

So who did I expect to attract? I didn’t explain what I stood for, what I believed in, what was my story?


Did you know I did my first backpacking at 30 across South America and worked in a field in South Chile for the first time. And I thought, why aren’t we teaching students to grow crops and agriculture and that everyone should be learning this? All of this not as a student, but after having worked in tech industry for 10 years, and then starting to be a freelance consultant for 2+ years. I never bothered to share these. It terrified me everyday, and I had to face all my worse fears in that one year almost on a daily basis. And as a dark skinned person, I found how backpacking is primarily a “white-people thing”.

Whenever I would see a person of another race do it, I’d mentally say “wow” in my head, followed by a self-criticising “racist” comment directed towards myself.

Because I was just hell bent on making the sale, getting people to contact me, I never bothered to share this.


Now I realise both direct marketing and brand marketing can be part of a great business. In the recent days of facebook and google ads, it is becoming more and more relevant.

And as far as what I stand for is concerned – I stand to support businesses that exist to not just delight customers, but turn them into promoters. Businesses that can create customers who thank them on social media about how happy they are to be a customer.

I’m here to support you if you want to create a business like that. Because I am that customer to a few businesses out there and I love being that customer and I love those businesses.

P.S. I am reading hearing “The Pumpkin Plan” on Audible. It has been a great book too. Totally recommend it.