For DTC (direct to consumer) marketers, a different set of marketing challenges can often require a different set of tactics.
I recently asked Polly Wong, president of the New York-based direct marketing agency Belardi Wong, to illuminate some of these differences.
Paul Talbot: What, if anything, makes direct marketing for a DTC firm different from other organizations?
Polly Wong: DTC consumer brands tend to be lifestyle brands, and they tend to target more affluent consumers. They also tend to have price points higher than traditional or mainstream brands and have less brand awareness.
The catalog solves all of these challenges by providing more real estate to show the brand story and brand value, as well as the brand’s full product assortment across categories and price points.
Catalogs are now cost-effective compared to the sky-rocketing costs of digital marketing. Most leading marketers have learned that when you contact consumers across online and offline channels, you increase response rates.
Talbot: Does the consumer care if they’re buying from a DTC rather than a traditional retailer?
Wong: In some ways, yes. Many DTC brands are focused on relevant themes like inclusivity and sustainability more than traditional retailers and these topics matter especially to younger consumers.
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We also started to see large retailers struggle with demand prior to the pandemic, and there is no question consumers began shifting away from traditional brands and were already starting to look for fresh brands with fresh products.
Talbot: What do you consider to be the most fascinating aspect of DTC direct marketing right now?
Wong: The measurability is incredible. Most retailers capture 60% or less of transactions at the name and address level. For DTC brands, they can capture 100% of their ecommerce transactions at the name and address level.
This means they are building their customer file, which is a true financial asset, and it means they have the ability to capture 100% of transactions from direct mail, which is targeted at the name and address level.
While other channels rely on cookies and tracking algorithms, and even then you don’t know if someone even sees a digital ad, catalogs and direct mail can be matched easily to transactions.
Print has a 100% viewability rate. The consumer has to touch it to recycle it. Not to mention that the print channel does not rely on third party cookie tracking.
Talbot: How do you see the time-honored fundamentals of executing a direct marketing campaign evolving?
Wong: The level of sophistication in the targeting and measurement is stronger than ever before, and there is a new generation of catalog creative best practices.
Catalogs don’t look like your mother’s catalogs anymore. They have aspirational photography, incredible storytelling, less item density, more white space, and less square inches (pages) overall.
Direct mail and catalogs act as a channel driver, to ecommerce and stores, and so we don’t see catalogs as big as we used to.
Talbot: Your public relations firm, Broadsheet Communications, says ‘more brands are looking towards direct mail since it has a 100% open rate.’ How do we know direct mail has this purported 100% open rate?
Wong: The consumer has to pull it out of their mailbox and then touch it again to trash it – or hopefully – recycle it!
Talbot: Any other insights on direct marketing strategy you’d like to share?
Wong: The resurgence in direct marketing is in large part due to marketers looking to reduce risk and dependency on Google and Facebook and to create diversity in their marketing mix.
With so many challenges on the different platforms and rising digital costs, companies are looking to expand into other channels such as print, outdoor media, connected TV, Amazon and podcasts to ensure they have a healthy business model.
We also know through contact path testing that when you reach consumers across multiple channels, you improve response rates.