How DTC Brands Can Succeed In The Next 18 Months

We govern our entire lives based on the stories we tell ourselves and those we hear from others. So, it’s important to tell your story, especially for brands.

We’ve seen a huge shift in the ecommerce space over the last couple of years towards the direct-to-consumer model. When you’re selling directly to your customer, your story has never mattered more. 

Ed Ceballos, Head of Partnerships at Everflow, was able to catch up with Rick Watson from RMW Commerce Consulting to talk about all things DTC. 

Rick brings extensive experience as a tech entrepreneur and thought leader, regularly publishing insights with widely known publications including Bloomberg and Silicon Valley Business Journal. We were delighted to have him join us for this fireside chat.


Here are a few takeaways from the chat pertaining to how DTC brands can set themselves up for success as we continue to navigate these shifting tides: 

Be prepared. Based on the state of affairs in the world right now, it’s never been more important to be ready for anything. Rick reminds us that regardless of how much we’d like to get “back to normal,” that we are still, and may be for a while, feeling the effects of a disturbed economy. 

  • Supply chain and availability - If your product is out of stock, you cannot sell it. Ensure that your supply chain is flexible and you’ve got backups for your backup.
  • Profitability and cash flow - Know your costs and where your profits are coming from (right down to the SKU level), and then figure out how you can reduce those costs. 

Once these things are accounted for, it’s time to really hone in on your customer. 

Know why. Like I mentioned earlier, storytelling is everything. The story of your brand sets the tone for everything else. It influences everything from the investments you make, your processes for fulfillment and customer service, to your pricing and promotions. 

Make sure you have an interesting message that people care about, and that you’re able to keep engaging with your community. Your paid messaging will have a much better chance at resonating with customers if you’re able to meaningfully engage before trying to sell them something. 

In addition to doing some soul searching for your brand, it’s also imperative to understand your customer’s “why”. There’s no reason for a customer not to be extremely selective when choosing a brand when there is no retailer vouching for your quality. Therefore, appealing to customer’s perception of their own identity is what really moves the needle when it comes to customer acquisition and retention in the DTC space. Consumers want to know that the brands they support are aligned with their own self image and aspirational lifestyles. 

Be consistent. Just like with interpersonal and business relationships, the relationship between brand and customer is one that needs to be nurtured. Rick reminded us how a constant, slow drip of water onto stone will eventually carve a depression, and suggested we visualize communication of this dynamic in the same way. 

“Consistently themed engagement with your audience that’s relevant, or interesting, and speaks to them will have a very powerful impact over time. Not always immediately, which is where a lot of people get flustered.” - Rick Watson

Repurposing your content across multiple mediums makes sure that your brand is reaching as far and wide as possible, without jumbling your message. 

If you’re a digitally native brand, using Facebook and Google Ads can be a very effective start. You can then add sustainability by building the right partnerships, including influencers and affiliates, to ensure that you’re consistently acquiring customers on a set CPA. 

Explore retail. Ecommerce is expensive, and really demands a lot of investment. For digitally native brands, retail partnerships with big players like Costco, Walmart, can be both lucrative and complementary. Wholesalers bring immediate cash flow to your business. 

Another timely example Rick pulled from the corona vault is the rise of the Peloton bike. Peloton set up a handful of retail stores to let potential customers experience the $2500 bike before purchasing it, even though the company foundation is in ecommerce. They know that a 5-10 minute ride is typically all it takes to reel in the customer, which makes the brick-and-mortar and staffing for the physical showcase more than worth it.

Everything starts with your brand story. Great stories drive not only customer excitement, but also company culture, product, and growth. When your story is strong enough to convert a brand new visitor into an excited customer, you’ve built a brand ready to take on any competition.

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