Have your own brand, your own product you sell online? Great! Can people tell by just looking at your website? Does your marketing reflect all you have put into the brand?
Unfortunately, working with direct-to-consumer brands, I see many fall for copying others in their marketing and failing to show the true value of their brand. Why? Because DTC brands often market themselves in the way dropshipping businesses do.
The problems with dropshipping
This doesn’t mean dropshipping is bad, it is just another ecommerce model and what works for it, doesn’t work for DTC brands.
Dropshippers compete on price and sometimes product selection. They have to be aggressive in advertising and engage in price wars. Price-sensitive customers are notoriously disloyal and any long-lasting relationship with them is impossible to form.
And since dropshippers resell their products, they don’t have much control over quality and can’t make changes. They also don’t ship the products themselves which means the packaging and unpacking experience cannot be customized. This often results in customer dissatisfaction, returns and bad reviews.
All this means dropshippers are always in acquisition mode, without a stable customer base and thus, not nurturing customer relationships over time. So, it becomes too hard to build a brand and grow profitably.
But when you’re building your own brand of products online
Brand differentiation is key
Having your own products means you have a bigger idea, a mission to change something. It means you’re actively creating a new solution to a problem. So you need to stand out.
Your brand cannot and should not look like every other similar seller out there. It should reflect your underlying values, the superiority of the solution and the quality.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Competing on price – quality, innovation and expertise come at a price
- Giving out discounts too much – it devalues the brand
- Being too humble – show off your good manufacturing practices, ethical supply chain, proprietary materials, etc.
Studies show consumers prefer brands with a purpose so don’t be afraid to build your business around that.
Long-term strategy in place
If you want your brand to become a household name, you have to plan for the long run. Discounting to get the sale and never checking on the customer again is not a long-term strategy.
- How to make customers engage regularly with your brand
- How to drive repeat purchases
- How to use organic and free channels to drive sales
- How to keep the same quality when orders increase
ROMI needs to be strictly measured
Your brand probably needs capital to keep growing and as soon as you turn a profit, the better. This is highly unlikely, though, if you overspend on acquisition and never get it back in sales.
Successful digitally native brands rely on word-of-mouth, personal referrals, and inbound marketing which are highly scalable as opposed to ads.
That’s why it’s crucial to monitor your returns on marketing activities:
- Which unpaid channels bring the most sales
- Which channels can be scaled easily
- Which channels work fast and bring immediate returns
With proper marketing performance reporting, you won’t be throwing money down the drain.
What can you do differently?
Murry Ivanoff, CEO of Metrilo, says, “What I see the most successful DTC brands we work with do is deliberately drive constant communication. They ask for feedback on new products, create useful content and are very frank and open about what goes on in the company, being active all the time so customers feel close and engaged.”
Native, a natural deodorant brand that worked with Metrilo from the start, worked out a simple but proactive feedback loop to gather feedback and improve its products. Customers loved the intimate connection and taking part in creating the product, which lead the brand to an acquisition by Procter & Gamble for $100 million.
Build meaningful relationships
If you want customer loyalty, make sure you communicate in non-intrusive way. This means tailoring marketing for different customers (or cohorts of similar behavior) by their exhibited buying behavior.
- How often they browse?
- What products they look at?
- How long does it take from one order to the next?
Using this data will make your marketing communication much more relevant and well-timed.
Drive repeat orders
In contrast to dropshippers, you should focus on repeat orders from existing customers instead of converting new ones. Your brand can have a whole lifestyle built around it like Patagonia, for example. When you create the product with a certain vision in mind, winning over like-minded people should be top priority.
Repeat sales can be stimulated in different ways:
- Expand product range with the same philosophy
- Create inspirational content around the lifestyle you preach
- Ask customers for ideas and make them into products
- Constantly talk about the quality, vision, materials, ethics of your brand.
Overall, if you want to stand out from the dropshipping crows with your own products, makes sure people understand how you do things differently and that you are dedicated to quality. And always treat them well so they come back.