📦 The Pursuit of Creative Diversity
May 21, 2023
Content Tag


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The slap that is heard all around the marketing world. Just know it’s out of love and nothing less. KEEP OUR NAME IN YOUR MOUTH! Please ❤️

If you’re new to DTC, welcome! You’re in good company with fellow newcomers from Upslope Brewing Company, Ledge Lounger, Bonafide, Toys “R” Us, Babe Lash, and A Bar Above. 🥂

In this newsletter you’ll find: 👇

📦 If you shelve it, will they come? With fractional CMO Bryan Holladay

📦 Discovering the Retail Personalization Index with Sailthru

📦 Why you NEED varying creative

📦 Creating powerful predictive audiences and transforming retargeting with Black Crow AI

Read ‘til the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

👉 If a pal forwarded this to you, subscribe so you never miss out.


🎧 On the pod this week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Bryan Holladay , fractional CMO for multiple brands and long-time performance marketer.

Bryan has a strategic mind and an unrelenting focus on the broader picture that sets him apart among marketers today. He’s a wealth of knowledge on paid social, customer acquisition, and solving problems with a 30,000-foot view.

Tune into this episode to learn what a day in the life of a fractional CMO looks like, why Bryan still believes in paid social, how retail can hurt your business, and many more marketing gems!

Plus, you’ll also learn the secret to getting on the DTC Podcast (hint: Eric is not above bribery 😉).

‍The Takeaways: 👇

Myth: “If you shelve it, they will come.”

Bryan believes too many brands fall into the temptation of expanding too quickly into retail.

“Target drives consumers into their store, and a lot of the time you’re one of many selections of a similar product…You ultimately end up on a shelf in a section… Who’s to say [shoppers] even know you exist there?”

It also costs quite a bit of money to get your product into retail (slotting fees, losses in margin, etc.).

“Sitting on that shelf, in some cases, can just be expensive.” 🤑

So, when does it make sense to expand to retail or other marketplaces?

One word: demand.

In my opinion, it’s when the people beg for it… All these DTC brands [that succeed in retail] had created demand, and then had visibility. That was what worked.”

If people already know you exist, they already want your product, and then they see you on a shelf in Target… That’s when you can see true retail success.

🌟 Customer surveys = goldmine:

Bryan has seen huge growth for his brands when they use customer surveys, and then implement those learnings into their marketing.

The first survey he uses is a post-purchase on-site survey (using a Shopify app called Grapevine) that simply asks, “How did you hear about us?”

This simple, one-question survey helps them figure out what channels are working and where to focus customer acquisition budgets.

Second, he’ll send a more detailed Typeform survey to repeat consumers, and offer them a discount or credit in exchange for filling it out.

Some questions of this survey include:

  • What products did you buy?
  • Why did you buy?
  • What did we do right?
  • What could we do better?
  • What drives you to buy (text, email, sales, new styles)?
  • High-level demographic info

[These surveys have] allowed us to really understand who is coming [to our site]... We had assumed our consumer was way focused in on price, but we stood back and found out, wow, actually the consumer that we’re going after is really more interested in comfort and style and options and product selection...”

These insights have allowed them to focus their marketing on what customers really care about: style and comfort, not necessarily price.

💰 What Bryan would do with an extra $50K:

Bryan “still has faith” in paid social. ✊

I would probably put a lot of it back into Instagram and Facebook, and I would spend more driving top of funnel traffic rather than low funnel conversion objectives…”

Specifically, he would spend $5-10K to get the best asset possible (user-generated, fresh, fun, and engaging) and then use the rest of the budget to run that creative on FB and IG.

👉 Listen to the full pod with Bryan here !


The top 100 brands reshaping the future of retail

🍔 You know that hole-in-the-wall burger joint that claims they have the best burger in the Northern Hemisphere?

(They're being a tad dishonest)

Unlike that burger joint, Sailthru's Retail Personalization Index is a lot more trustworthy source without the risk of food poisoning.

Sailthru surveyed 5,000 consumers and evaluated 500 brands to determine the top 100 leaders in personalization.

These are the visionaries who know the rewards of investing in personalized experiences.

Discover how brands like Thrive Market, Sephora, DSW, 1stDibs, and others made the list.

Want to know how those brands are connecting with customers and how you can improve your personalization strategies?

👉 Check it out here.


Wondering what separates good agencies from great creative partners? The ability to represent your brand across varying types of creative on different platforms.

How many times do you look at the same ad more than once? When you see it once, you become accustomed to its message, and (more subtly) the style of that ad.

Similarly, if you’re creating ONLY polished lifestyle ads for your product for fear of diluting your messaging, you may be missing the opportunity to showcase new angles and messaging to capture new audiences. Using new creative formats and messaging may just be the change needed to trigger a sale from scrollers!

Check out this example:

You are scrolling through content you have selected to see (whether consciously or not) and then pops an ad for a new type of cereal from your favorite brand.

  • The ad is someone eating the cereal and then driving to the gym. Cool. You can eat that cereal, that actor liked the cereal, you can drive after it (and hey maybe get a workout in).

The next ad is an iteration with similar messaging:

  • The ad is a child eating the cereal that their dad poured for them. They too are very happy eating it.

What have we learned about the cereal? Some assumptions as to the usefulness of the product. Even with a catchy CTA, it’s not enough to trigger the switch from our favorite cereal to this one.

Here’s how the Pilothouse creative team would signify the desire to switch:

  • Use side-by-side comparisons between the new cereal and your old favorite to showcase differences.
  • Have the person enjoying the cereal talk about the benefits and how it fits into their busy lifestyle.
  • Compile a series of reviews (written or video) showcasing the reasons people should eat THIS specific cereal.

It’s not just about the product, but the depth of information that can be provided through different styles of ads.

If you’ve got creative burnout, or are looking for new angles to get your product in front of the right people, reach out to the Pilothouse creative  team!


Collab of the year

🔥 Black Crow AI just dropped a lit case study on Liquid IV.

The Case study explores how Liquid IV implemented Black Crow AIs plug-n-play platform to build a custom machine learning model for their website to find insights within their first-party data.

With the help of Black Crow AI, LiquidIV created a far more powerful and predictive audience for Facebook that transformed their retargeting campaigns. 48% increase in net new customers and 32% lower CPA.

LiquidIV also found prospective lookalike audiences that further scaled their marketing while hitting their ROAS targets.

Want to learn more? 📚

👉 See the entire case study!


⏳ Time is running... Join Square, Meta, Glow Recipe, and many more at Ecom World. Last chance to score tickets under $200 for the world's largest Ecom event. *

📉 Magna’s US ad spend forecast falls after Russian invasion of Ukraine.

📺 Instagram is now testing a fully-immersive feed making feed posts, stories, and reel content on one single feed.

🔍 Tiktok is now testing search ads, only available to selected partners.

🏷 Instagram is blessing eCommerce brands with their new product tag feature now available in feed posts.


🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

👀 If You Shelve It, Will They Come? With Fractional CMO Bryan Holladay.

🏋️‍♂️ Why Personalization Might be the Biggest Opportunity in DTC with Eric Ji Sun Wu, Cofounder of Gainful.

💄The Fast Road to 8 Figures with Jones Road Beauty's Cody Plofker.

❣️ Molly Garraway on Growing a CX Team to 100, and Then Starting from Scratch with LoveSeen.

Don’t forget to rate the DTC Podcast  on Apple (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

DTC Newsletter is written by Rebecca Knight, Jordan Gillis, and Kelsey Hess. Edited by Claire Beveridge and Eric Dyck.

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📥 Work for The DTC Newsletter: Send an email to Rebecca, rebecca@directtoconsumer.co, if you’re interested in writing for us!

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