Direct to consumer marketing is popular with brands trying to leverage their marketing. A big part of that growth has to do with the fact that it allows brands to enter the market directly, without needing an intermediary.

But is it as simple as choosing to “go direct”? What are the benefits of this brand of marketing? And are you, as a business, ready to shift your marketing to a direct model?

Join us, today, as we break down this popular brand and customer experience strategy.

 

What Is Direct To Consumer Marketing?

“Going direct consumer (or DTC)” is a marketing strategy that has surged in popularity in recent years with businesses. The concept is very simple. Sellers sell directly to their customers and avoid traditional ad spaces such as TV, public displays, and the radio. With DTC, the broker is kept out of the process.

As you can imagine, it’s particularly popular online. This is a space where brands have more direct access than ever to their followers’ inboxes and social media profiles. In the last decade, a growing movement of brands has started applying this strategy to their retail, with great results. Direct consumer retail models feature brand manufacturers selling directly. This is available to anybody who wants to buy their products, whether individuals or retailers. No middleman retailers needed.

 

So Why Should You Care?

The direct to consumer model has grown a lot in popularity since its inception. But why exactly are so many people making the shift? The simple answer is: because their competitors are already using it, and this is no time to rest on your laurels as a business.

The less cynical answer, meanwhile, is because of how easy a DTC model makes it understanding your buyers. Who is buying your product? What are they buying it for? These answers often don’t line up with what you thought in your head, and it’s important to know these things so you can take advantage of them.

With a DTC model, a business can collect any and all relevant to help better understand their target audience. It does this by opening a direct line of communication with the customer, instead of sending products through a retail supply chain.

As we move closer and closer to a completely digital market, traditional brands are finding it difficult to maintain a foothold. Digital brands have a distinct advantage in this regard. They’re targeting the readiest, most primed subsection of consumers: the online shoppers. But it goes beyond that. Because they’re not just selling, anymore. They’re building relationships with these people.  

Think of a customer buying your shoe brand in a shoe store chain, one day. They pay for the shoes and wear them out of the store, they like them so much. But six feet out of the front door, the stitching comes apart completely and the shoe disintegrates. 

Who’s going to handle this consumer brand embarrassment? The shoe store but, truth be told, they’re only interested in saving their own skin. So they’ll refund the shopper, give them store credit, and replace the shoe and move on. But your brand suffered, today, and you weren’t there to defend it. 

As we move closer and closer to a completely digital market, traditional brands are finding it difficult to maintain a foothold. Digital brands have a distinct advantage in this regard. They’re targeting the readiest, most primed subsection of consumers: the online shoppers. But it goes beyond that. Because they’re not just selling, anymore. They’re building relationships with these people.

 

Further Benefits

With fully integrated DTC, your brand website stands to benefit in several key areas, in addition to increased sales. Perhaps the biggest of these is having a single, consistent, reliable source for all of your data, from customer and product records to SEO and more.

DTC storefronts also offer businesses distinct growth opportunities. They can expand along with their wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels. By developing relationships with customers, you gather data about them. Everything from their browsing to their shopping behaviors becomes available. This allows you to adjust your marketing plans and make the most of consumer habits in an intelligent way.

 

Are You Ready For DTC?

Of course, all benefits aside, there’s no point in going after direct to consumer marketing if your company just isn’t ready for it. The most important part of the process is deciding you have what you need to pursue DTC marketing. So, what is there to look for?

 

Is DTC Right For You?

To be completely fair, there are actually several reasons why a straight out DTC marketing blueprint will not work for everyone. One of the biggest, right away, is that you may have several direct competitors who are also entrenched in this style of marketing by the time you start. So, instead of the normal learning curve to master DTC and get on top of how it works, you have to literally come in as good as the top contenders in the game. And maybe you’re just not there yet. 

There’s no room for pride when it comes to good business. A company with deeper pockets and more brand experience than you are more likely to pull ahead, even if you come out swinging for the fences.

If setting an “out of this world” price is a big driver in your industry, switching to DTC is also often a bad idea. After all, Amazon exists, and going up against them has not worked out well for 98% of their competition. 

DTC also doesn’t make as much sense as going wholesale for new companies if you want to expose your products far and wide. Once you’ve had enough exposure, it should be much easier to implement a successful DTC e-commerce campaign.

So, do any of these scenarios still apply to your business? If not, you may be suitable for DTC sales. Let’s take you through a few questions you’ll want to be answered, first:

Is my company focused on brand identity?
It’s a plain and simple fact of doing business in the 21st century: a shift to DTC will force your business to put more focus on the brand itself. This perspective will give you the insights you need to view your competition in new ways you can capitalize on.

 

Is Your Website Outdated?

A non-transactional, information-based website may have made sense before you became consumer-facing. Now, however, you’ll need more. Ask yourself if you should build a separate site, or to add DTC functionality to your site as it stands.

 

How Difficult Is Integrating Feedback Loops On My Platform?

Make sure to check that your e-commerce platform can actually install KPIs before starting. Social media integration and buttons are as important.

As trends emerge and fade back again, you’ll want to use the new data that follows to improve your site performance. Your platform should be able to provide plug-ins and support to help with your transition to DTC, as well.

 

Can You See Your Product Well In Your Sales Channel?

If you only compete with a few other brands in your sales niche, “shelf space” may be the least of your concerns. There’s room enough for everybody in this pool, as it were. However, this never lasts, as competition tends to intensify and sales channels will always fill up over time. As these get busier, you’ll find less and less visibility for your own brand.

As you find yourself needing more visibility for your products, you’ll find yourself needing to go direct to consumer more and more. And the impact on sales is almost always positive.

 

How To Get Started?

For a business just dipping their toes into the direct to consumer marketing ocean, the process can seem infinitely daunting. Like anything else, though, there are simple steps to follow if you’re getting started:

 

Find Your Voice

It’s possible you already know about your brand’s meaning and value proposition. That’s a great foot to start with, but DTC marketing means you need to focus on your representation. Start with a mission statement, and encourage your marketing, product and sales departments to work together. Your goal is to outline determine:

  • Consumer profiles, with summaries of demographics, product use, and buyer geography
  • Message maps, including your market position, competitive edges, and tagline
  • Unique graphic design elements, from brand palettes and colors to logos and typography
  • Advertising assets
  • Collateral

 

Build A Website

We won’t spend long on this point because obviously consumers need somewhere to purchase your product. Whether you use a specific web developer or a WYSIWYG online option there are ways to get a great looking site up and running.

When creating a marketing site, remember the following:

  • Make it mobile-friendly. More website is done on mobile devices than not, so this is a must.
  • Tag your website for Google Analytics so you can keep accurate track of visitors.
  • Set up email submission forms and start collecting email addresses.
  • Connect your social media accounts so you can increase followers and engagement.
  • Direct attention to your contact information, in order to make your website more user-friendly.

 

DTC Ads

Once you’ve set yourself up properly for a DTC campaign, it’s time to start the serious business of building out your ads. Remember: organic content is important, but you’re going to need to attract new visitors to your website for that content to ever get seen. And that means targeted advertising.

 

Paid

The starting point for every DTC brand, paid searches use targeted keywords in a bidding system to deliver message ads to your consumer base. They’re fast, effective, and, with enough optimizing, can work very well, especially in the beginning.

Social media is also important for DTC, and paid ads are an option here, too. These can boost a brand’s voice, allowing DTC campaigns to spread their messages in a personal but far-reaching sort of way.

 

Email

Remember the email form we told you to set up earlier? This is where it comes into play.

Gather the contact list you’ve been creating up and start creating email marketing campaigns. It’s important to start with a deal email, to give people a reason to keep checking back in. Then build it out with promotional campaigns and other ads to help keep your brand visible, moving forward.

 

Programmatic

Not familiar with programmatic advertising, yet? You may know more about it than you think, however. These are display ads or banners that feature on a website’s sidebar. These ads are purchased, automatically, to be featured on these websites, which is why they’re called “programmatic”.

The chief advantage of one of these ads lies in the size and targeting potential they offer, especially for such a low price. With dozens of options out there, this is an attractive option for many brands.

 

Out-of-Home Ads

The idea with so-called OOH ads is fairly straightforward: any ad shown to consumers when they are out of their homes is an out-of-home ad. Think subway ads, podcast sponsorships, posters, and viral marketing in big cities. These can be effective if handled the right way. Just remember to target high-traffic, densely populated areas for maximum visibility.

Before buying a placement, you should refer to buyer privacy. If your target audience is in the suburbs and you need to go to work every day, it’s not far from running ads on the subway.

 

Is Your Business Model Ready To Go Direct?

In today’s article, we’ve covered the advantages, challenges, and processes of using direct to consumer marketing. Manufacturers have the opportunity to leave brokers behind. Moreover, they have a shot at accessing the market directly via e-commerce and social media. It’s a new age, with a lot of potential, provided you’re willing to put in the work to shift your focus.

Looking for more insights into leveraging your new business into a position of growth? Check out some of our other blog content, or get in touch with us, today!

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