Marketing & PR

Everything You Need to Know About DTC Marketing

In this competitive world, every company is looking for an edge to help it rise above the competition. One way to do this is through DTC marketing. DTC marketing, or direct-to-consumer marketing, takes out the middleman so you can market your products or services directly to your customers. In this guide, we’ll cover what exactly direct-to-consumer means, the benefits and drawbacks it can bring, and how to implement DTC marketing in your organization.

Yauhen Zaremba

Yauhen Zaremba

Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc

29 November 2022

In this competitive world, every company is looking for an edge to help it rise above the competition. One way to do this is through DTC marketing. DTC marketing, or direct-to-consumer marketing, takes out the middleman so you can market your products or services directly to your customers.

In this guide, we’ll cover what exactly direct-to-consumer means, the benefits and drawbacks it can bring, and how to implement DTC marketing in your organization.  

What is direct-to-consumer marketing? 

Direct-to-consumer marketing is a system that allows companies to market and sell their products to consumers directly.

This means that no go-between is involved in the commercial proposal or afterward. There are no retailers involved - the manufacturer sells their products directly. 

Traditionally, manufacturers would sell their products at wholesale prices to retailers, who would then sell them to consumers at higher, retail prices. In the DTC model, the retailer is totally cut out of the equation and manufacturers are able to communicate with their consumers directly.

In DTC marketing, the people behind the brand have direct control over every aspect of their product’s marketing. This means they can put across their brand’s values and personality without worrying that a middleman might mess it up. They also have greater control over their customer-seller relationship. This can save money if your budget is tight. 

However, this can also mean more work – you must take charge of things like inventory, shipping, manufacturer lead time, and branding. If your company produces a great little gadget, you can’t just pour every drop of sweat and love into perfecting that product. 

You also have to take care of the marketing side. You have to become a jack of all trades, and if you’re a small company, that means more responsibility. You have to become an accountant, a marketing expert, a tech expert, and a customer service agent. For example, you have to know how to manage a wholesale inventory management system.

How to implement DTC in your organization 

So now that we’ve covered the benefits and drawbacks of DTC, let’s have a look at how you can take the reins and apply this method to your marketing. 

1. Social media to the rescue

Social media is a particularly strong tool for DTC brands because it offers a direct bridge between the company and the buyers. Through social media monitoring you can create and sustain company-consumer relationships by offering up new products that meet customer expectations. With social media listening platforms like YouScan you can collect consumer feedback about your brand and improve it, manage brand reputation, analyze customer’s behaviour, their interests, occupations, and more. 

You can also make use of user-generated content by encouraging the use of hashtags and offering rewards for getting the word out about your sponsorship proposal. A lot of businesses will ask people to take a photo of themselves using their hammock, water bottle, or whatever else they may have purchased from the company (oven gloves maybe?), and tag the company in it. 

It’s much cheaper to send a freebie to a customer than to organize a photoshoot, and you garner a lot more engagement that way too. Make sure to get users to tag you and their friends in the post, as well as share in their Instagram and Facebook stories, for maximum exposure. 

2. Your brand’s personality

Developing your brand’s vibe, personality, core communicable values, and whatnot is an integral part of your DTC marketing strategy. Take boiler suits, for example. Would you feel more comfortable buying an off-brand suit and trusting that the material really is flame retardant, or going with an established brand like Dickies, which has cultivated a hip vibe over the years? 

The only quantitative difference between the two boiler suits could be a tiny label, but the qualitative difference is immense. Brand personalities offer trust - they’re recognizable, familiar, and pass the vibe check (hopefully). 

To create your brand personality, you need to choose a recognizable, distinct aesthetic for your marketing campaigns, which can inform everything from your color palettes, to your fonts, to the models that wear your clothes. People should be able to look at your product and guess that it comes from you just by picking up on non-verbal cues like how it’s presented in pictures, and the tone of the description text, you get the gist. 

3. Customizable products

You don’t have to offer custom products, but sometimes this can really give you a leg up and help you to get more customers rolling in through the proverbial doors. A lot of people are quite specific in what they want, and DTC brands can capitalize on that and build on their brand loyalty.

You can gain insight into the types of personalizations people wish to see through polls and direct feedback (e.g., via comments) and create a selection of personalizable aspects from there. For instance, if you sell sofas, you can offer a model in several different fabrics or colors. 

4. Influencers!

Have you heard of influencer marketing? It’s all the rage on social media, whether it’s Insta, YouTube, or new trends on TikTok. You basically just pay a celebrity or influencer to display your product on one of their posts or stories and tag you in it to garner more followers, likes, and, eventually, customers. 

We’ve already covered getting user-made marketing material. This is that but on a whole other level. This is a celebrity, which is great publicity for your brand in and of itself, but the fact that they post the content on their own profile means that you reach all of their followers as well. 

This way, you’re not only relying on your own brand’s personality, but also that of the influencer. As long as their branding gels well with your own and their values don’t clash with yours, then you’re good to go. 

5. Social activism

Finally, and we know this might sound a bit strange, social activism can go a long way to building a good relationship with your customer, and a reputation for your brand. People care about more than just affordability and convenience. They also care about the impact of your product - especially in the current climate and all of the changes happening. 

Things are really heating up in the world, and people want to leave a light footprint. You don’t have to be a carbon copy of other businesses and their efforts. You just have to emit positive messages to convey the meaningful ways that you are helping make the world a better place. 

You could make sure all of your items are certified organic, plant a tree for each product sold, send your product in compostable packaging, and offset your emissions to boot. 

To summarize

DTC marketing offers the unique opportunity to get chest-deep into the marketing of your own products. That helps you to live and breathe what you sell, and to form deeper relationships with your customers. If you’re very passionate about your project, that’s likely to come across in your marketing efforts. It does, however, mean more work for you overall. 

But, with the right training and software, you can make it a success. 

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