DTC 20: 📦 Talkin’ Turkey
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Welcome to Wicked Wednesday -- a day of the year we just made up that’s right before Black Friday / Cyber Monday. 

With so much going on this year, let’s take a minute to be thankful for building businesses in the plentiful and abundantly growing space of DTC.

There’s always room at our table, so pull up a seat and join this week’s new DTC Fam: Microbe Formulas, Holy Grail Beauty, Joolies, Pokoloko, Glamfleur, Bulletproof Coffee and Joico. 

(If a good friend forwarded this to you, be sure to subscribe yourself here)

Alright, ready to talk turkey? Check out the spread:

📦 Set the table: Why comment moderation is the secret to adding

an additional 20% to your bottom line (plus a Pilothouse Whitepaper)
📦 Time for some hors d'oeuvres: 3 quick-hitting BFCM insights from the Twitterverse

📦 DTC+ Boardroom Member Vin McCauley gives his insider playbook to building a world-class team

📦 Molly Pittman stops by to settle the age-old media buying debate “In House or Agency?”

📦 A Ted Baker Dynamic Creative ad that goes horribly, horribly, right?

Stick around until the end for a value-packed Things We Love featuring Instagram’s updated 3-step process to post directly from an influencer’s page, natively. 

Add 20% To Your Bottom Line With Comment Moderation

And we’re back! This week’s edition of All Killer No Filler features the Pilothouse team talking comment moderation and the incredible impact it can have on your business. Let’s jump into the key takeaways:

🗝 Why don’t you have a comment moderation strategy? 

Immediate engagement with your customers is hugely beneficial. 34% of people prefer to communicate with brands over social media, and only 9% of brands communicate over Facebook and comments - don’t miss out on this opportunity! 

Ruthless comment moderation is your best foot forward; businesses have increased their sales 15-25% by effectively engaging with comments.

Not only will comment moderation directly result in attributable sales, but it will also improve the efficacy of your ads themselves, as this kind of high-quality engagement weighs heavily with Facebook’s algos.   

🗝 Comment review is an onboarding shortcut

If you’re an agency reviewing a prospective brand as a partner, a full review of their ads’ comments is the quickest way to judge brand sentiment.  

A comment deep dive is also a great source to inform your ad strategy from the ground up.

  • What questions are they asking (what size? free shipping?) 
  • What objections do they have (costs too much)
  • Are they willing to share UGC (my product just came in the mail!)

🗝 How to measure success? 

There is an intangible benefit to comment mod that you can’t precisely measure, BUT the Pilothouse team uses UTM parameters on links sent by their comment mod team that are tracked to bottom-line revenue. 

🗝 Keep it conversational 

Comment moderation is analogous to serving at a restaurant; you know your customer already wants your business’ food. Your job as a server is to provide enticing descriptions of the menu items and foster a pleasant experience. This is the comment moderation vibe! 

Rather than approaching comments as a sales pitch, respond with open-ended questions and other product offerings. Your position should be more conversational - someone to bounce ideas off of. 

🗝 Preparation People! 

Pilothouse has three comment moderators that work around the clock to keep response times as quick as possible. Their efficiency relies on preparation and a base level of resources that moderators can access at all times. 

While FAQ’s are handy, you want to stay away from them as much as possible, so customers have an authentic experience and don’t feel like they’re dealing with a bot. 

The Pilothouse team tries to keep all the info they need at arms reach by creating a cheat sheet doc with everything the team needs to know about the brand. You want whoever is talking to your customers to sound as confident about the brand as the CEO - they are your brand’s voice. 

Our team combs through every piece of content from the brand (previous ads, posts, customer reviews) to gather info. Next, we follow up with questions to the brand liaison to solidify a consistent voice (If your brand was a celebrity, who would they be? What’s your tone and voice? Are you emoji people? Or more professional?). This audit is part of our onboarding process for new clients - but you can easily apply this to your team. 


“Alexa, play Controversy by Prince.”

Don’t shy away from a little controversy - it sells and engages - some of our best ads with the controversial ones where we had to be involved in the comments. 

You can even try flipping your negative comments into ad copy. Take a little inspiration from Liquid Death’s socials 

Check out the full podcast on audio or video.

Interested in learning more about quality comment moderation?

[DOWNLOAD]  Pilothouse’s Content Moderation Whitepaper 📖

BFCM hors d'oeuvres from the Twitterverse

How are your BFCM preparations going? Whether you’re crushing it or feel like you’re behind the eight ball, here are some insights from the community on Twitter:

How IS BFCM going for you this year? We’d love to hear about it. Take a minute, hit ‘reply’ and let us know where you’re at 👊

DTC BOARDROOM - Team Building

Vinny McCauley was a foundational team member at ButcherBox and helped drive their meat-eoric growth to an 8 figure juggernaut as head of CRO. 

He’s translated his CRO experience, his connections, his deep knowledge of frozen food logistics and his passion for team building into SmoothieBox and where he is seeing very promising growth.

Vin was one of our first guests on the DTC podcast back in June when he held court on how to build a high-growth subscription business. 

For his DTC Boardroom post, I reached out to ask where his head was at now and where he felt he’d been providing the most value to his company as Presiden. He came back to me with this foundational piece about team building that we’re proud to include as an installment in this series. 

Five Core Values to Create a Winning Team

One of the main keys to any business success I’ve experienced has been the team I surround myself with. At SmoothieBox we launched with the below 5 Core Values and at least once a day one of the below items is brought up in a meeting or used when making a decision.   

The key for us is that the core values are authentic and not just corporate platitudes. We use these to build confidence in the team, create clear expectations and provide guiding principles. In some cases, our core values provide the “tie breaking vote” needed to tip a specific decision one way or the other.   

We communicate the 5 Core Values initially during the interview process to make sure the candidate we’re considering aligns with our most basic principles and expectations. They come up again during the onboarding process and are validated by the onboarding team.  

At least once a month, we have an “all hands” meeting in which the core values are one of the standard slides we review quickly for anyone new in attendance. 

Lastly, they are brought up organically in many of our discussions, and used to support/defend different positions and corporate decisions.  

At SmoothieBox these five core company values drive who we hire, our employee review process, how we work, act, and make decisions. We ask all hires to agree to the below and as you’ll see in the first value, we hold each other accountable. We are our brothers/sisters keepers.

If these values resonate with you, feel free to steal this whole cloth, or alter as you need.

You’ll be amazed at how the establishment and adherence to core values can simplify decision making at all levels of your team. 

At [your business here] we are:


🟠 Accountable:

  • We hold ourselves and business partners accountable to personal, team, department and company goals and outcomes.

  • We value personal productivity in the context of achieving collective outcomes.

  • We trust and rely upon our teammates to complete excellent work on time.

  • We encourage efficiency, timeliness, and individual agency in how we accomplish work so that we can prioritize a healthy lifestyle and work-life balance. 

  • We have an ability to work autonomously, self motivate, and work our hardest, despite no direct oversight.

  • We seek solutions, we can bring up problems, but we discuss solutions.

🔑 Accountability sets the tone and the standard for being on our team. We know that “not just anyone” can be on our team. We are a team with expectations, clearly communicated. This allows a strong “work from anywhere” culture which has come in handy during the pandemic. This also allows for people to work when is best for them, maintain healthy lifestyles and simply be judged on the job they do, and not the hours we work.  

🟠 Authentic:

  • We communicate openly and honestly.

  • We aim to be truthful with our members in our product offerings.

  • We aim to be transparent and collaborate with our business partners.

🔑 Authenticity starts at the top and is modeled. We strive for authenticity in our brand, marketing materials, conversations with our members and in our product development. Our product is authentic, our reviews are authentic, our offers are authentic. We seek partners to work with that are authentic and employees that are authentic.     

🟠 Relentless Improvement:

  • We are constantly iterating ideas and processes to push ourselves and the company. 

  • We work smart and scrappy.

  • We are a goal and numbers driven company and use data to measure our progress.

  • We support being lifelong learners.

  • We want to continuously improve our member’s experience.


🔑 Relentless improvement drives our daily actions and activities. We ask each other in meetings, what are you doing to improve today.   Relentless improvement allows us to “go live” with things that are not perfect, as we know we are all committed to improving over time.   Relentless improvement removes the “analysis paralysis” and “fear of failure” element that a lot of businesses experience.  

🟠 Member Obsessed:

We want to provide members with an experience that exceeds their expectations.

We seek to understand our member’s needs and solicit their feedback. This feedback is the foundation for how we solve problems, improve and innovate.

We ask ourselves “Is what I’m working on, helping our members?”

🔑 Being member obsessed allows us to keep “the main thing, the main thing.” In business, there is a tendency to get distracted and become obsessed with things other than the customer (member).  When the temptation creeps in to focus on revenue or to become “profit obsessed” this core value grounds us to our launch vision.

🟠 Humble:

  • We encourage a dialogue of diverse opinions. 

  • We are open to people’s opinions and experiences different from our own.


  • We encourage asking questions and approaching challenges with creativity and curiosity.

  • We are quick to admit failure.

  • We were founded on humble beginnings.

🔑 Humility is simply not celebrated in modern business culture, in fact, quite the opposite. There are books and management courses that discuss solely “how to manage egos” in the workplace. It is literally impossible to successfully manage egos. Even if you are able to, the amount of work involved to do so, is unsustainable & distracting.   Demonstrating, celebrating, & fostering a culture of humility relieves the need to manage egos, from the top down. When times are good, we raise our heads for a moment of celebration, but humility dictates that we put our head back down and go back to work.  

We use the above concepts like a constitution to help guide us through the daily navigating that is required in business.  A culture is only a culture if embraced & defended.

I’m excited to be joining DTC’s community, and I look forward to connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and contributing where I can. You can reach me at vin@smoothiebox.com or find me in the DTC+ community. 

Sponsored Content -- Hook Logistics


🦃 Happy Thanksgiving DTC Fam!


We hope this holiday brings you and your family some much needed R&R and a very profitable BFCM!


In the spirit of giving, we’ve gathered some delicious resources to invigorate your holiday brainstorming:


Doing Fulfillment Right: 5 Tips for eCommerce Success

This tasty blog post from our head of marketing is chock-full of helpful tips on how fulfillment can grow your business.


Winter Special: 3 Weeks of Free Fulfillment!

The holidays have got us feelin’ all generous. Through end of year, we’re offering new clients 3 weeks of free fulfillment for their eCommerce biz!


A Logistics Consultation - On Us!

We like talking logistics. Even better is when we can help others improve their workflows. Schedule a call with our CEO today!


Any other way we could help? Say hi at info@hooklogistics.com. We would be pumped to hear from DTC readers. 🤗


Happy Turkey Day,


The Hook Logistics Team



Media Buyer Showdown (In House vs. Agency) with Smart Marketer CEO Molly Pittman

This week on the DTC Podcast, we brought DTC icon Molly Pittman and Pilothouse CEO Dave Steele to answer the age-old question: Should you hire an agency or build in-house media buying teams?

🌶 Spicy. Listen to it now, or read on for a summary of the value bombs.

As most of you probably know, Molly is the CEO of Smart Marketer and Train My Traffic Person, a training program for in-house media buyers. She’s the author of Click Happy, and she recently launched a new podcast, Smart Marketer. I’ll have what she’s having. 🙋‍♂️

So what’s the deal? Agency or in-house? 

We may have lured you here with a clickbait-y title; it’s less about in house or agency, more about relationship building. There is no one size fits all; different businesses have different needs. 

Often what works best is a synthesis of transparent and aligned in-house talent with specialized agency services for customer acquisition.

Here are Molly and Dave’s best insights for building your media buying team internally.

Hiring media buyers

  • Trust your gut  - Simple as it sounds. You make decisions based on your gut when it comes to all relationships. Prepare, of course, but listen to your inner voice when choosing people to work with. 
  • Values-based hiring - Ask your candidates what their core three personal values are. We discussed this in a recent AKNF on agency growth. It’s essential to establish your values as a company and hire those who align. 
  • Prioritize communication skills - This is fundamental to your success internally and for relationships with clients. 
  • Motivation check -  If your candidate is entirely motivated by money, what will happen when they’re satisfied with that area of their life? There needs to be a deeper meaning.
  • Abundance mindset - Media buying requires a strong stomach for spending. You need a team comfortable with making those big spends. If they’re operating from a place of scarcity and urgency, it’s unlikely they’ll thrive in a position of finance-based decision making. 

Avoiding media buyer burn out 

Molly is no stranger to burnout and is continually working to remain mindful of energy exertion. You can form addictive patterns of people-pleasing and hyper exertion when building a career. You’re spending a lot, you’re earning a lot - and it’s hard to turn off, take a step back, and find balance. You have to work hard to set boundaries to preserve your capacity. 

It’s integral to your team’s longevity to instill boundaries and burnout avoidance into your workplace culture. Don’t set the expectation that if you don’t experience burnout, you haven’t worked hard enough. 

The best thing you can do to foster a culture of balance and stress reduction is to lead by example. Communicate your boundaries and needs, and encourage your team to do the same. It comes from the top.

Listen to the full pod for predictions on the future of agencies’, why you should hire candidates with service industry experience, and a reminder to monitor your screen time. 

Sponsored Content -- TrustSpot.io

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AD TIPS - Dynamic Image Sizing

🤣 When custom DPA overlays go wrong (or potentially too right 😈).

Spotted by Luke Bradley courtesy: Scott Seward from RightHook

Things We Loved This Week

🖼 Framework: We checked out Ad World and really enjoyed the presentation of Chris Goward and his work at Dollar Shave Club to develop "The LIFT Model”  which draws on the 6 conversion factors to evaluate experiences from the perspective of your page visitor: Value Proposition, Clarity, Relevance, Distraction, Urgency, and Anxiety."

☕️ DTC+ Coffee: We’d like to get to know you better. Click here to sign up for a 15 minute coffee chat with Eric and Kyle to see what a homerun with the DTC+ Membership would look like for you.

🔥DTC Charcoal: Go ahead and add this to the list of unexpected DTC products. Kingsford (Godfather of charcoal) is currently offering charcoal and pellets for delivery. The company drops off an actual pallet that includes 48 16-pound bags of their original charcoal and 56 20-pound bags of their pellets classic blend. Testing the DTC model is a fire decision (ha!) with consumers staying home and shifting more of their spending online due to the pandemic. 

🔧 Tool: Finally! A browser app that lets you keep track of your copy and paste history. Anyone who’s ever put together a massive Facebook campaign could get a lot of mileage out of this one. Consider the pro version to get the “floating” feature. 

⚫️ Black Friday Patience: @social_savannah reminded all media buyers to ease off the panic button when it comes to Black Friday ads. Same-day delayed attribution will play a big role in what ROAS looks like Friday morning vs Friday night. The key: don’t turn off your ads too soon! 

🌏 Think Then Buy: Amidst the $68 billion that will be spent on Thanksgiving weekend, there’s room for consumers (us included) to become more aware of how our purchases impact the environment. One area that often gets overlooked is returns. With more than 1 million returns between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, your “free returns” policy takes a toll on our environment due to the carbon emissions needed to ship items back. To promote “slow shopping,” brands like REI and Deciem have completely shut down their stores and website during BF, while Allbirds has increased its prices to raise money for environmental non-profits. 

🆕 Hot Off The Press: We’re always on the prowl for the most interesting new DTC brands. This week we’re highlighting Slow Up, a health and wellness company creating snack bars with fresh ingredients such as quinoa, chickpeas, red peppers, and eggs. Unlike every other bar on the market, these go bad after 14 days and must be refrigerated. While others see this as a downside, we see it as a huge opportunity to stand out in a crowded snack bar market. Right now, they only serve the northeast U.S, but we’ll keep an eye on their plans for expansion 👀

😂 Tweets That Laugh: @StevejLamar provided the Twitter world with a much-needed laugh last week. “People keep asking me how I went from 143 followers to 150 in just 6 months. Let me tell you it has been a journey. A thread👇” Read the thread here 

TV Show: The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is the most binge-worthy shows in a minute. We’d like to say that hours spent watching beautiful nerds move chess pieces around in exotic locations made us as smart as the grandmasters in the story, but really it’s just for entertainment. The main character’s arc sees her try to balance between her raw, intuitive genius (and it’s accompanying demons), and the practiced, methodical study needed to beat the best. 

📸 Instagram Update: Brands now have the ability to post directly from an influencer’s page. In the past, branded content ads could only be created if there was an existing post by the influencer. This update allows Influencers to utilize their profile without the need for a permanent post. Talk about a win-win scenario! 🎉 

Here’s the process according to Instagram 

Step 1: “Advertisers sends a request for ad creation access”

Step 2: “Creators accepts ad creation access”

Step 3: “Creator receives notification of the created ad for their approval”

🧵Thread: @FaheemSiddiqi highlights the 4 key revenue stages/milestones that micro DTC brands usually follow. “90% of all brands live between stages 1-3. They over-index on new customer acq, not enough on retention. Invest in retention. This feeds your growth engine.” 

👶 Direct-to-Baby: Last week Gerber, one of the largest producers of baby products, announced that it will start offering curated subscription boxes. For $69.99/month, your 6-month would receive USDA certified organic cereals, purees, and pouches/snacks. The items change the older your baby gets and also includes educational material for parents. We asked multiple babies how they felt about this new service, and most just stared at us - a sign that Gerber’s end-consumer is slightly hesitant about the move. 

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