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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ridgewell

How To Avoid Missing Pieces In Your DTC Strategy

Over my career from the early days at The Franklin Mint through to the direct-to-consumer (DTC) launches at Disney, it’s been exciting to see direct-to-consumer marketing grow in prominence and sophistication.

On the other hand, it’s all too easy to over-simplify DTC into neat funnels and over-simplified formulaic marketing. When defining a DTC plan, there are certain givens – balancing customer acquisition and maximizing retention, understanding acquisition costs, lifetime value and churn rates, ensuring flawless mobile experiences, best-practice-filled e-commerce sites and more. But there has to be more than this - to establish a firm foundation for genuine growth. So, when running programs of all sizes, here is my mental checklist to maximize chances of success.


Live your customer experience

As marketers, we often live in a theoretical bubble of a linear journey.  The best way to experience what customers do is to live that journey yourself. Be a secret shopper. Visit your store. Call your support line. Make a return. This can give invaluable tips from website navigation to post-purchase resolutions. Small tweaks can result in serious shifts to the bottom line. Ignore them at your peril.


Don’t skimp on Customer Service

Your care team is not a cost centre, it is an investment in retention. A good care team can sustain – even enhance – a brand reputation, especially given how the positives and negatives of an interaction are so easily shared on social media. Great teams resolve issues, build trust, and even bring new insights based on real-life front-line customer interactions. Make your care team your best friend – it will pay off exponentially.

Diversify your marketing channels

It’s too easy to become over-reliant on a small number of channels. Work out where your customers live online and offline, and strategize on how an interconnected journey can play to your advantage. I understand that this may create some attribution fun, so find subject matter experts up for that particular data challenge.


Don’t under or over-estimate your data

Speaking of data, not leveraging your consumer data intelligently can paint false pictures of your consumer, impede personalization, and distort the reality of what is truly impacting what. The inverse is also true. I’d argue no one has a full 360 view of a consumer unless they are a mind reader and have full access to all competitor insights. Ensure your data team and tech stack are right-sized and provide the right stories to add value.


Don’t neglect testing

Times change, and attitudes change. Teams that set it and forget it fall behind. Testing and optimizing strategies with a constant champion/challenger mindset avoids stagnation and creates a culture of growth through continuous improvement. Build testing into your calendar – and culture.


Don’t ignore branding and culture

Back in the day. DTC’s laser focus on acquisition and retention proved successful time and again. The product ruled, with the consumer a close second. Building brand equity and emotional bonds for long-term growth can be a competitive advantage and growth tool in its own right. Understanding how brands resonate across different generations, demographics, and cultures opens new doors. One size no longer fits all, so plan strategically depending on your exact product and service.

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