Using DTC or Direct to Consumer marketing strategies is becoming more and more prevalent over time. This has continued to increase in popularity and we can no longer ignore it’s importance of such an approach.
Whether you’re operating a retail chain of businesses or simply just trying to make your best efforts on a small family-owned business, connecting directly with your customers is a must.
You will find that a direct to consumer marketing strategy might not only help you meet your goals but could potentially also cut costs and streamline your processes at the same time. Profitability and efficient practices are key.
This is why we’ve put together a guide to help you know and understand how to develop a successful direct to consumer marketing strategy.
Table of Contents
DTC is an acronym for direct to consumer. This marketing approach is all about connecting with consumers on an individual level, rather than making them feel like just another number. You cross out the middle man or the intermediary service that handles these types of contacts and you as the business make the contact yourselves.
In this scenario, the business is directly touching the consumer. It’s a more personalized connection that tends to attract consumers towards the products available.
Ultimately a direct to consumer marketing approach allows you as the business the opportunity to guide the consumer on the path you feel is right for them. This guided relationship leads the consumer to feel more loyalty towards your business.
The purpose here is to build a relationship that leads to trust as well as retention. You’re providing value and incurring loyalty.
The thing about DTC marketing is that the marketing itself and the approach is always changing. Trends change, data changes, and you have to be proactive in order to stay current with the trends at the time.
The numbers speak for themselves. Did you know that with the current pandemic, companies that use DTC marketing strategies felt far fewer downturns? One study from Totem Media shows only 22% of DTC businesses reported declines while 80% of traditional retailers suffered dips and declines in the market.
Now, let’s talk about developing a successful DTC marketing strategy.
One of the key driving factors in direct to consumer marketing is providing your customers with a positive experience. According to Forbes, 73% of consumers admit that a good experience influences their brand loyalties.
If you want to maintain customers and attract new customers, they need to have a great experience. We’re not just talking an average experience. It has to be a good, foundational experience and it needs to be one that they will talk about to others.
User-generated content is a must in the DTC strategy and it’s impressive for customers who are looking at your or considering your services. If you give them a personalized experience that really speaks to them, they will share that experience with others.
A common approach to this particular piece of the strategy is to have testers that will share their experiences to social media. They may share reviews and data with their following and then the word continues to spread.
A single customer experience that is positive may drive to a multitude of other customers when they share about their experience.
There are so many social media platforms out there from Facebook to Instagram and then other platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. These social media platforms are your stage. Take advantage of the stage.
Social media allows you to build a following, partner with influencers, and really share quality content with the world. You want your audience to be large but you also want those trusted followers who can influence and share about your brand.
A study completed by Nielsen revealed that approximately 92% of consumers trust social media as well as word of mouth far more than they trust traditional advertising. It seems like these avenues make an impact because they seem more real than advertising that you have no idea where the details came from.
On social media, they can lean on people they know as well as people they just choose to follow. We make connections and those connections become sources. It’s a broad circle but the circle helps you and anyone on social media who is sharing about you.
Taking advantage of social media is a must. If you don’t have a social media presence, it’s time to get one.
If you have the opportunity to partner or connect with an influencer, this is just one more boost that you should take advantage of. Influencers are labeled as such for a reason and people trust their recommendations. Influencer content often is respected and even followed.
You can collaborate with an influencer and use influencer marketing as part of your approach.
You need to build a brand and then stand behind the brand that you build. Your brand should never be bland but rather have a specific personality or identity to relate to. Most people know brands by their mission or their logo.
A brand is so much more than just a logo so you should build your brand to have its own unique identity. The brand contains the logo, the colors of the brand, and consistency. You also need a great name.
On average, a company should rebrand approximately every 7-10 years but there are also specific times and circumstances that might lead a company to rebrand as well. Here are the most prominent times to rebrand according to Entrepreneur.
- Stand apart from the competition
- Update an outdated brand
- Improve a poor reputation
- Business evolution
Any of these things can really be a part of any business at just about any time. If your branding has never been updated, it may be time to consider rebranding. When you rebrand, you don’t have to change everything about your company, you simply are updating your look.
It’s about keeping your brand at the forefront and attracting people to you based on the foundation of your brand and it really does play an important role in attracting customers.
Your brand needs to have personality and substance.
Direct to consumer marketing is all about making things personal. This comes into play with anything out there – whether you sell a product or a service. If you can’t make it personal, you will never connect with customer or potential customers.
There are many different ways to do this, even with bulk emails and outreaches. You don’t have to go in and hand write letters to each of them or even write individual emails and texts. Whatever you do send, you need to find some way to personalize.
Thankfully, there is software that can help with this type of thing. Personalization software is designed for just such an instance. With the use of personalization software, you can make offers and outreach somewhat personalized by defining factors.
You make this work by creating specific segments based on your contact’s details. A segment might be for people who live in a specific state or people in a certain age range. There are a ton of segments you can create or utilize.
You can still automate this process. One great example is a customer that subscribes to a service or purchases a certain product. You can follow up with this purchase with an email that talks about the service or subscription and welcomes them. You can also include additional supporting services or even products that pair well with what they already purchased.
Don’t just make this outreach about selling but rather about teaching them about the new product or service they just purchased and then offering helpful suggestions they can pair it with. It’s about welcoming them with open arms.
This is not the only way to use personalization but it is a great example of how it can work and be personalized and yet still automated at the same time.
It is not advantageous for every company to do direct mailings but it may be worth looking into. While a lot of people will dismiss those retailer emails as junk, they might take a double look at receiving something in the mail.
This will be an approach that is used sparsely. You don’t constantly want to send out direct mailings but you would be surprised at how much customers appreciate receiving a thank you card, a welcome to the team, a Christmas card, or perhaps a coupon when they’ve given you their business.
You have to remember that not every customer actively uses email or social media and while there are an astronomical number of people that do, there is a time and a place that a direct mailer actually might benefit your company.
Again, you will probably use this sparsely but if you really want that direct to consumer marketing to feel like a personal approach, this is certainly a means to consider. Even Generation Z and Millennials like to get some personal mail from time to time. It gives us something to hold in our hands that just feels special.
There is a dramatic focus on online advertising and using all of the online resources available to you. This is very important, don’t get us wrong, but it doesn’t catch everyone. There are so many people to be reached that may ignore your emails or refuse to use social media.
The lady driving down the freeway might just really be caught by your billboard and decide to check you out.
While you should certainly take advantage of all of the online advertising options to reach the masses, you should also consider direct to consumer marketing that takes place offline. Here are a few places this might mean.
- Radio advertising
- Television advertising
- Subway, trains, and other travel source advertising
- Pamphlets and brochures
- Sponsoring events
- Public transit
There are many public places that have no online presence where your ad might be seen. You see these all of the time and whether or not you realize it, they draw you in. You never know who you might reach through a resource such as this, opening your business to a whole new realm of possibilities.
We’ve already talked about appealing to the masses with your brand and the identity of your brand but let’s take that one step further. Making yourself stand out and really draw people in is not always just about the brand. While your brand and making people aware of your brand is a huge part of it, you have to connect people to your business on a personal level.
This is what direct to consumer marketing is really all about. Your brand needs to be continually seeking to make connections and appeal to the emotions. Find some way to stand out against the competition and make your brand memorable to people. You want to be recognized out there.
This will be a continual process but well worth the effort. You will need new leads and new ideas generated. You will need to be able to nurture new relationships and continue to build on them. It’s up to you to determine how best to connect in your market and it really depends on the agenda of your market.
Don’t forget the tools available to help you. Things like paid ads can be incredibly helpful in these circumstances.
In closing, direct to consumer marketing is all about finding the way to connect with your customers. This could be different from business to business so it’s important to determine what will work for your business in particular.
We hope that these tips will be useful for you as you plan and prepare your DTC marketing strategy. Keep in mind that it really is all about finding a way to keep it personal and make the customers feel like they aren’t just another sale.
About the Author
For over 25 years, Jay Sung has been a passionate leader in driving sustainable growth through direct-to-consumer, e-commerce, and customer acquisition strategies. Mr. Sung oversees corporate branding and growth initiatives utilizing a continuously evolving toolkit of digital marketing strategies and technologies to drive innovative direct marketing programs for portfolio companies – from startups to Fortune 500 organizations.
Previously, Mr. Sung served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Guthy-Renker, a $1.3 billion industry leader in the direct-to-consumer health and beauty market. He is best known for developing consumer acquisition and marketing strategies for leading brands such as Meaningful Beauty® with Cindy Crawford, Wen® Haircare by Chaz Dean, IT Cosmetics™, and many others. In addition, he served as the CEO of such well-known brands as The Proactiv Company and Lot18.
Mr. Sung lives in Los Angeles, enjoying all Southern California has to offer. You’ll frequently find him reading the latest business journal, cooking, or practicing the piano to relax. Mr. Sung earned his Bachelor of Science degree in economics with a double concentration in marketing and accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.