Direct marketing for the brand direct to consumers


For direct to consumer (DTC) marketers, a different set of marketing challenges can often require a different set of tactics.

I recently asked Polly Wong, president of New York-based direct marketing agency Belardi Wong, to shed some light on some of these differences.

Paul Talbot: What, if anything, sets the direct marketing of a DTC business apart 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 higher prices than traditional or mainstream brands and have less brand awareness.

The catalog solves all of these challenges by providing more space to show the history and value of the brand, as well as the full assortment of the brand’s products across categories and prices.

Catalogs are now profitable compared to the sky-high costs of digital marketing. Most leading marketers have learned that when you reach out to consumers through online and offline channels, you increase response rates.

Talbot: Does the consumer care to buy from a DTC rather than a traditional retailer?

Wong: In some ways, yes. Many DTC brands focus more on relevant themes such as inclusiveness and sustainability than traditional retailers and these topics are particularly important to young consumers.

We also started to see large retailers battling demand ahead of the pandemic, and there is no doubt that consumers have started to move away from traditional brands and are already starting to look for fresh brands with fresh produce.

Talbot: What do you think is the most fascinating aspect of DTC’s direct marketing right now?

Wong: The measurability is amazing. Most retailers capture 60% or less of transactions at the name and address level. For DTC brands, they can capture 100% of their e-commerce transactions at the name and address level.

This means they are building their customer file, which is a real financial asset, and it means they have the ability to capture 100% of direct mail transactions, 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 is even seeing a digital ad, catalogs and direct mail can be easily associated with transactions.

The print has a 100% visibility rate. The consumer must touch it to recycle it. Not to mention that the print channel does not rely on tracking third-party cookies.

Talbot: How do you see the centuries-old fundamentals of direct marketing campaign execution evolving?

Wong: The level of sophistication in targeting and measurement is higher than ever, and there is a new generation of catalog building best practices.

Catalogs don’t look like your mother’s catalogs anymore. They have ambitious photography, incredible storytelling, less object density, more white space, and less square inches (pages) overall.

Direct mail and catalogs act as a channel driver, to ecommerce and stores, so we don’t see catalogs as big as they used to be.

Talbot: Your public relations firm, Broadsheet Communications, states that “more brands are turning to direct mail since it has a 100% open rate.” How do we know direct mail has this so-called 100% open rate?

Wong: Consumers have to remove it from their mailbox, then touch it again to throw it away – or, hopefully, recycle it!

Talbot: Do you have any other direct marketing strategy ideas you would like to share?

Wong: The resurgence of direct marketing is largely due to marketers looking to reduce risk and reliance on Google and Facebook and create diversity in their marketing mix.

With so many challenges across 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 are successful. ” have a healthy business model.

We also know from contact path testing that when you reach consumers through multiple channels, you improve response rates.


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