DTC 32: 📦 Blizzard People
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

What do Victoria, BC and Victoria, Texas have in common? Both are wildly unprepared for winter snowfall – and both got about a foot of powder, which knocked out power, and created a temporary winter wonderland.

The power’s back on and our snow people are puddles, but we’re still cozy af – grab a cup of joe and strap in for DTC 32. 

New here? Welcome! You’re in good company with fellow DTC newcomers from Sentric Music, Erase Cosmetics, Disney, Revel Nail, NY Times, Primark, Superfoods Company, Radioshack, Saucey, and Meow.com 😺 

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In this ❄️ super cool ❄️ edition of DTC Newsletter you’ll find:  

📦 How to create IG content that grows your brand organically with IG storytelling superstar Dain Walker

📦 So you want to start a subscription service for your brand? Here’s what consumers are saying, courtesy of Attest

📦 SmoothieBox’s Vinny McCauley breaks down his subscription retention strategy (with direct examples from his world-class funnel)

📦 Facebook’s standardized naming conventions, and some quick insight into how we use them

📦 Pilothouse copywriters on their top tips to ace your presell page copy 

Stick around until the end for a quick hit guide from the Pilothouse team to improve your CTA’s!

Super Growth on Instagram with Victory Front Media’s Dain Walker 

Content marketing is a necessity for DTC brands or agencies as we all try to cut through the noise and engage customers in ways that steadily build your brand affinity and foster LTV.

This week on the DTC Poddy, we chatted with Dain Walker. Dain is a brand strategist and Instagram expert who's grown a rabidly engaged 200k following in less than two years by simplifying complex and powerful ideas into compelling content. 

Dain is one of the clearest communicators we’ve seen, both on social media and in person. Read on for his deep insights on how to create IG content in a way that connects and grows organic engagement with your brand. 

Don’t miss his engagement hacks for creating compelling carousels, as well as his personal development superpower and life-changing reading list.

📦 Engage authentically with people’s problems

Dain started his business by sharing content about ideas that he’d collected, applied, and benefited from – things that actually solved problems for him. 

When the content lands in front of other people with the same problems, he is sure to engage with them. When starting up, he would DM his audience members, even make friends with them on Zoom. The more he did this, the more he found common threads between his audience members and their problems (70% were people trying to start their own business and fly solo). Once he had a hold of this, he could make his content even more precise.

📦 Know who you're speaking to

Every successful marketing campaign starts with one question: ‘who are we trying to speak to?’ While early-stage content creators tend to think that they want as broad a reach as possible, they end up casting such a wide and loose net that they get no one. A married 35-year-old woman with two kids will require a different message than a single 23-year-old woman with no kids. It's hard to find a message that deeply resonates with both without being vague and impersonal. This gets incrementally harder the more customer avatars you try to squeeze in. Know your customer!

📦 Don’t just make content for people who are going to give you $$$

A common mistake Dain sees from early-stage brands  is being too focussed on ROI. They’ll often think that they are directly making content for the people who are giving them money. This is not always the case.

Dain encourages viewing your following as a ‘rent-a-crowd.’ Of his following, only a small portion engage with his paid business – but by interacting with the content, and spreading the word to others, they act as ambassadors. If he were to stop adding value to these people’s lives to focus on the slim margin of his following that is actively paying him, he would lose his most valuable resource. As Dain says, “you’re not making content for those who are going to pay, but for those who are in the world of those people.” Leverage that crowd!

📦 Hacks to create compelling carousels

Here are Dain’s key recommendations for Carousels:

  • Say something bold on the first slide, addressing a common problem in a striking way
  • Make your first 3 slides quick swipes. If they get to 3, they’ll go to 7.
  • Solve the problem on page 8 or 9 with visuals. Offer a process they can use.
  • On slide 10, have your CTA
  • Overall, if you have text-heavy slides, save them till the end when people are already committed to the post.

📦 Leverage, baby

While Dain has made his name on IG, he says traditional networking and sales are what gave him the tools to succeed. When asked for his unique superpower that helped him achieve what he’s done so far, he had one word: Leverage.

Leverage isn’t about Machiavellian manipulating, it's about recognizing the resources you have and prioritizing the ones with the biggest impact. 

People tend to think that time and money are their biggest obstacles when really, according to Dain, it’s people’s perceptions of their own resources.

For Dain, the #1 overlooked resource is relationships. Work with who is available to you. Dain gives the example of someone who reached out to him early in his Instagram career and was a fan of his content. Dain, realizing that he didn’t yet have the credibility to charge the big bucks, offered to do free content for him in exchange for paid referrals. It worked, and within a matter of months he had quit his full-time job to launch into IG. He saw a relationship to leverage and recognized that a resource he had available to him was providing free services. The rest is history.

📦 Read like a monster

Dain’s upbringing didn’t lead him to value traditional education. This changed in his early 20’s when an ambitious friend basically forced him to pick up a book. He hasn’t stopped reading since.

He says Cash Flow Quadrant (by Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad acclaim) changed his outlook on money.

Here are some other books he recommends:

📚22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - “Great if you’re trying to grow a business”

📚10x Rule - “Pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and take relentless action”

📚How to Win Friends and Influence People - “Understand psychology and behaviour”

📚Richest Man in Babylon - “Understand how money works and different ways people handle the idea of it”

Those are some of the key takeaways from the cast’s convo with Dain. But the episode is PACKED with so much more value. Dain talks about measuring hashtag performance, the keys to early organic growth, and even roasts the @dtcnewsletter IG! Want to see the guys get roasted? 

Check it out here.

So You Want to Start A Subscription For Your Brand

Here’s what you need to know:

Attest asked 2000 American consumers how they felt about subscriptions, and here are the results – as well as some suggested solutions for how to capitalize on this data to build or optimize your subscription program. 

  • 47% of US consumers have at least one active subscription (21% have more than one)
  • 73% of US consumers are either open to or actively looking for a product subscription 
  • Men are more likely to have a product subscription than women (49% versus 44%)
  • People aged 18-40 are more receptive to the idea of receiving products by subscription 

What do consumers like about buying products by subscription?

For those who already have a subscription, their main incentive is value. 23% of people believe a product subscription provides them with good value (men especially; 26%, versus 20% of women). 

  • 19% of consumers signed up for a subscription because it was a nice treat. Women are significantly more likely to subscribe for this reason (24% versus 16%). 
  • 18% signed up for a subscription because they love the brand (men are more likely to be swayed by brand loyalty than women: 21% versus 16%)
  • 17% of Americans cited convenience as motivating their subscriptions
  • 16% cited to-the-door delivery as their subscription incentive

What’s deterring subscription purchases? 

Cost is the primary deterrent, cited by 47% as the main obstacle to subscribing. Despite feeling they get value (as cited earlier), consumers don’t want to commit to a recurring cost. 

  • 42% don’t want to be locked into subscriptions 
  • 29% are concerned about getting goods they don’t want 
  • 23% feel that subscriptions are unnecessary 

Subscription solutions

  • Offer easy cancellations and subscription holds 
  • Allow customers more control over what products they receive in subscription boxes 
  • Convince customers to overcome their negative perceptions by communicating the benefits of subscriptions 
  • Target younger demographics who are more open-minded to subscriptions
  • Focus on subscription services that replenish an item consumers often run out of – think consumables 

For more insight on the state of subscriptions in 2021, as well as the general state of the DTC market, take a read of Attest’s comprehensive 2021 Guide to Direct-to-Consumer Trends

Or, if you’re ready to start your own consumer research, reach out to Attest today.

Subscription Retention Strategies with SmooothieBox’s Vinny McCauley 

After our subscription deep-dive with Attest, we reached out to our DTC Boardroom member and subscription specialist Vinny McCauley on his retention strategies and suggestions.

Here’s how Vinny makes subscriptions go smoothie 🥤

① Retention starts with solid “bonding sequence” post-purchase communication. 

For SmoothieBox it’s a hybrid of email sequencing and human interaction (calls).

  • We don’t discuss “frequency” during the purchase period, everyone defaults to 4-week frequency.
  • We then discuss flexible frequencies (everyone smoothies differently) and making sure they pick the one that best suits them.
  • We’re testing a “white glove” service, where we check in and communicate (no selling) during the first 90 days.

② Three days before charging their card for the next order, send the customer an email with 🔥 blazing deals 🔥 

  • Instead of communicating “We’re charging your card,” communicate “here’s a deal you can’t refuse – have it added to your next box”
  • Then offer something at cost, or close to it – a legit great deal
  • That email also communicates flexibility: If you aren’t ready, you can delay here

  • Cancellation is not an option via this email.


  • Collect info about “why” the customer is cancelling, use this to improve your business
  • Address issues and friction points that cause people to cancel
  • Provide alternatives or reasons to stay
  • Maybe they don’t know they can skip or delay
  • Remind them of benefits of being a member
  • Allow them to cancel  

The #1 mistake on retention is viewing “cancelled customers” as “gone”

After surveying cancelled customers, we learned that over 80% planned on buying from us again – just not now.  

So now we look at our portfolio of “cancelled” customers as “not nows” instead of “nevers” and we talk to them like they are active customers. They are still part of the SmoothieBox family

For more from Vin, you can check out his Boardroom post. 

Ads Manager Anxiety?! Kondo-ify Your Account with Dynamic Naming Templates  

Save yourself from a naming nightmarescape and get organized! 

The best advertiser is an organized one who can easily and efficiently find any campaign, ad set, or ad. 

The secret? Naming conventions. 

Now, most effective buyers already use their own naming conventions. But, Facebook is here to help with new dynamic naming template changes to ads manager. Once you save a name template, you can apply it when you create a new campaign, ad set, or ad.

You can use the name templates to: 

  • Create a standardized naming convention for your campaigns, ad sets, and ads. These naming conventions can be applied automatically if you so choose
  • Ex. your campaign objective can be dynamically filled in and updated
  • Ensure changes you make to your campaigns, ad sets, or ads are reflected in their names without manually updating them
  • Create an abbreviated summary of your campaign, ad set, or ad settings, which is easy to see from the reporting table 
  • Avoid errors when naming your campaigns, ad sets, or ads
  • Build custom fields to include a list of options
  • Ex. ad format - [PIC], [VID], [CAROUSEL]
  • Ex. audience targeting - [OPEN], [TIER1], [NA]

You can read more on the update here.

This update is an excellent opportunity to do an organizational overhaul. If you need a little inspo, Stu from the Pilothouse team generously laid out his naming framework: 



Ex. TOFU_Leads_LeadGen_Aug20_ContentGiveaway

Ad Sets: 


Ex. ShortformAds_1%LALs_Canada_Aug20_Scarcity/Angle_Leads



Ex. UGCVideos_ScarcityAngleSF_Aug20

How much time would you save if you could automate some of those naming conventions? We’d love to see some of yours!

This week’s All Killer No Filler is the second half of our presell page discussion – and this time, we’re talking copy! ✍️

Pilothouse copywriters extraordinaire Alora Bossy and Brad Knell join us to break down exactly what you need to do to ace your presell page copy. 

A middleman between your ad and shopping cart, your presell page acts as a salesperson by supporting the customer, giving them a nudge, and providing the info they need to convince them to purchase your product or service. The role of the presell is to eliminate any doubts and make the purchase irresistible. 

Here’s how to make a presell page perform: 

📦 First impressions matter

The headline is the most critical element to ace. You have three seconds to grab the attention of your reader and compel them to read further. 

Try to hit the 4 U’s in your introductory copy: unique, ultra-specific, user-friendly, and urgent.

Whatever promises are made in your headline and subheading, you have to fulfill those promises in the rest of the page. It’s important to be compelling, but is equally important to be factual. 

📦 Know your customer, know your product 

Research is key. You need a thorough understanding of your product (what it is, how it works, what makes it unique) as well as your prospect. You need to understand the problem that your product is solving, and then use your copy to tap into an emotion related to that experience. 

Where do you find this intel? The internet, baby. Dig through reviews, comments sections, social comments – you can find customer responses and reviews everywhere. Compile all the comments (both good and bad), and use them as a starting point to formulate your messaging. 

📦 Engage your email audience by creating a strong avatar 

Write your emails from an avatar that resonates with your audience. Don’t be afraid to leverage the founder’s voice and tell their story. People will fall in love with your product after they fall in love with you.

📦 Your ego is not your amigo 

Don’t flex too hard or fall in love with your own copy. You don’t need to write a literary masterpiece.

The goal is to write in plain language that informs the reader and compels them to take action. Ultimately, you need to benefit the reader, not your ego. 

Take a listen to the pod, then sign up for DTC+ and join our Build a Presell Page Challenge, February 24-26.

🎧 Listen here

Looking for a new way to reach and engage consumers?

With SheerID, you can invite and reward consumers based on their groups and affiliations – securely. You make an exclusive offer to a group, and we make sure that only the right people are able to redeem.

We could tell you more, but the best thing to do would be to show you how Purple Mattress, Headspace, and Chipotle used SheerID to improve conversion rates, attract influencers, and drive huge PR results, respectively. 

Purple offers 10% off for military members

The epic mattress company used SheerID to create a specialized experience for military members.

This simple act of customer recognition and reward increased conversion rate by 6x and generated an ROAS of 25:1.

This SheerID integration saw a 6x increase in military conversions that helped the identity marketing program generate 58% of its previous year’s revenue in just eight weeks.

🆔Check out the full case study

Headspace attracts 25,000 teachers to subscribe

Headspace is on a mission to improve the health and happiness of the world. The company wanted to honor educators – an undervalued group it sees as pivotal to society – but needed help creating a personalized offer to engage them. 

By partnering with SheerID to create an identity marketing program, the company was able to acquire 25,000 new educator subscribers in three new markets, reduce fraud by 41%, and boost engagement.

🆔Check out the full case study

Chipotle Rewards Health Professionals with a free burrito

Chipotle wanted to give its customers a chance to support workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, so it launched a campaign named 4HEROES,  donating a burrito to a healthcare professional for every burrito a customer purchased digitally. 

Using SheerID to verify eligibility, the company gave away more than 100,000 burritos in two hours. The campaign generated 167 news stories, more than 700 million media impressions, and an unprecedented 100% positive net sentiment. 

🆔Check out the full case study or send us an email to nicole.campagna@sheerID.com to start discussing what rewarding your customers’ identity can do for your brand. 

Tighten up your CTA’s with this guide courtesy of Pilothouse UX/UI Designer Jake:

Quick Hits 🥊

😎 2 Facebook automated rules that will help you find winning ads FAST

🎙 Deciding whether your brand should jump on Clubhouse? Read this

📸 Why you should make Instagram a bigger focus this year. Hint: Instagram has 14x higher engagement than Facebook and 27x higher engagement than Twitter

🍭Beau Wrigley says his cannabis company will be bigger than the family candy business

⚠️ Top 3 Questions About the iOS 14 Updates. Answers here

🤯 For the first time ever, over 50% of China’s retail sales will come from ecommerce in 2021 

📈 What to include when building an e-commerce ads dashboardpr

🚀 LinkedIn is planning to launch a creator program

🚨 Thrasio, a start-up who buys and grows Amazon businesses, raises additional $750M of equity

🛠 Matt Navarra shares all the Clubhouse tools you need to get started

📱 9 Instagram videos that drive e-commerce sales

🧵Kristen LaFrance shares how she sources and chooses podcast guests

🙌 Shopify announced that Shop Pay will be available to merchants on Facebook and Instagram 

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