B2C MarketingMarketing

Direct Marketing Cuts Out the Middleman – Data Driven Investor


Feb 22
Taking charge of your goods and services and connecting directly to customers is the essence of direct-to-consumer marketing. Eliminate the middleman and emphasize the human touch.
A specialist in consumer strategy and engagement, Bernie Fussenegger cuts right to the core and eliminates the mystique of what the industry calls D2C.
“Director-to-consumer marketing is exactly how it sounds,” he said. “We are selling products or services directly to customers without using a third party. We are bypassing the middlemen of wholesalers and retailers.
“I have been able to build a team and have a great group,” Fussenegger said. “We are an umbrella brand that has 44 brands. We provide all print assets, website and web updates, paid media, search engine optimization, email marketing and social media — and I get to oversee it all.”
He talked with digital marketing expert Madalyn Sklar about how the direct approach is far better to control customer experiences and messages — not to mention the financial benefits.
“There should be really good savings without the middle person, but you could also increase outlays depending on marketing spend and so on,” Fussenegger said.
Direct-to-consumer is not quite the same as business-to-consumer marketing, or B2C.
“With D2C you don’t have to worry about the middle person like you do with B2C, which relies mainly on wholesalers or retailers to distribute their product,” Fussenegger said.
“There can also be a gray area,” he said. “I look at my past life in pizza marketing,” he said. “It technically doesn’t have a middle person but is considered B2C.”
Authors present an interesting example. They would be D2C if they do their sales from their websites, but not D2C if they sell books through Amazon.
“That is a good way to think about it,” Fussenegger said. “If it is on your site and you control pretty much all the experiences, it is D2C.”
Sklar also summarized based on her experience.
“With direct-to-consumer marketing, a company promotes and sells its offering directly to consumers,” she said. “As a result, it allows companies to bypass middlemen in the creation, promotion and selling stages.”
Fussenegger cited notable examples of D2C marketing on Twitter:
“Another thing about these brands is how they engage, how they are able to personalize and the control they have over their content, message and experiences,” Fussenegger said.
Sklar pointed to one of the latest interactive online sites.
“Twitter Spaces is a good example of D2C marketing on Twitter because it allows you to reach your target audience,” she said. “It also provides an opportunity to add value and position yourself as an expert in your field.
“By showing up on Spaces — or Twitter in general — on a consistent basis, you stand a better chance at making connections with your audience,” Sklar said. “That can lead to sales.”
Fussenegger looked at the overlap of the tools, resources, strategy and tactics between D2C with B2C marketing.
“D2C marketing includes personalized experiences, social engagement, performance campaigns and in what channel your target audience lives and engages,” he said.
“It still comes down to having a goal or strategy, knowing who your audience is and what channel they prefer,” Fussenegger said. “You have your message of value and how you are going to engage and message them.”
All of that makes search engine optimization crucial.
“Having a solid SEO strategy is important for D2C marketing because it can help position your brand in front of your desired audience,” Sklar said. “Email marketing is great as well because it enables you to reach your audience and build relationships with ease.”
Consumer strategy plays a major role in D2C marketing.
“The goal of D2C is to bypass the traditional distribution channels,” Fussenegger said. “The strategy is centered around the channels, experiences and messages that you control — social media, video, websites and the rest.”
Success relies on gathering customer intelligence.
“It’s important that you have a clear understanding of who your consumers are when developing your marketing strategy,” Sklar said. “Knowing their wants and needs shapes your content, your offerings and more.
“As you get to know your ideal consumers, you’ll begin to see gaps that your brand can fill so you can better serve them,” she said.
A consumer strategy has several essential parts, which Fussenegger broke down:
“It really isn’t as complicated as it might sound,” Fussenegger said. “When you see how it works together, it really makes sense.
“A consumer strategy has the following working together,” he said. “There is data, insights and analytics supported with tactics from media, web, creative and SEO, plus social media for the experiences and engagement.”
Sklar also takes a systemic approach.
“When developing a consumer strategy, you need to understand their pain points, address their needs through your content and offerings, establish your expertise and build loyalty over time,” she said. “Make sure you deliver on promises.”
D2C marketing takes into account the marketing funnel that includes awareness, interest and consideration.
“With the marketing funnel, it is understanding the customer journey of where they are in the funnel, who the audience is, what the message should be, what channel to deliver and how you are going to measure,” Fussenegger said. “That’s not much difference between a B2B or B2C.
“How you create that awareness while trying for a direct response approach is a fine balancing act,” he said.
That brings more tools into the picture.
“Generate awareness through consistent content creation on platforms such as a blog, YouTube, podcast and social media,” Sklar said. “Then you can focus on nurturing your leads through email marketing and begin pitching information on your offerings.”
Implementing a D2C marketing strategy requires a broad outlook, which Fussenegger outlined:
“Specifically, you should define goals,” Fussenegger said. “Use roadmaps, tactics and channels to support the goals. Use project tracking to show status and success. Report to understand the results. Then optimize and adjust as needed.”
Sklar agreed that it’s important to keep the end in mind.
“Implementing a D2C marketing strategy begins with knowing your goals,” she said. “What do you hope to achieve from your efforts? This will help you track the appropriate metrics to ensure you get your desired results.
“There are tons of great resources online,” Sklar said. “A quick search should reveal helpful blogs, videos and podcast episodes. If you’re looking for tips, especially for social media, Social Media Examiner is a favorite.”
Fussenegger refers to his examples of best D2C marketing brands for guidance.
“I see what they are doing, how they engage, how they market and how they connect,” he said. “I also fall back on my B2C background.
“Go back to the basics,” Fussenegger said. “Define your goals, how you are going to support them, and then measure. Ask questions. Follow others. Think about how these brands engage with you, your experience with them and what is important as a customer or consumer.”
About The Author
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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