As adept strategists within the domain of marketing, our jurisdiction doesn't extend to influence the operational dynamics of the business or dictate the range of products to roll out. We liken ourselves to culinary maestros who aren’t given the liberty to select their own ingredients. Nonetheless, our prerogative lies in determining which culinary delights to present, the ideal timing for their unveiling, and the most effective methodology for their presentation.
To encapsulate this differently, I propound that the two principal responsibilities resting on the marketing function's shoulders consist of, firstly, successfully insinuating a compelling narrative into the consumer's psyche, validating their acuity, enhancing their life's quality or augmenting their appeal to their partner should they opt for our product. The second task involves orchestrating optimal purchasing moments.
I firmly believe that all acquisitions transpire cognitively. One might pose a query about impulse purchases. Even in such instances, the decision-making process remains consistent. It's merely that when the price point is minimal, the due diligence (or, to put it more precisely, the narrative we proffer to individuals) occurs on an expedited timeline. This is akin to contrasting the spontaneous purchase of a non-essential item under $50 with the ponderous decision to acquire a highly-priced 200lb geode (this still haunts me to this day, but the Chakras are aligned…).
So, how does this concept interface with marketing? An astute question: The most effective way to ingrain the success narrative in a prospective buyer's consciousness involves discerning the 'job to be done'. Why is this individual 'hiring' your product? I've elaborated on the 'JTBD' framework in a previous piece.
I'll refrain from delving deeper into the concept of story inception given its intricate nature and to prevent this discourse from becoming unduly lengthy. I'd recommend familiarizing yourself with the 'JTBD' framework before we proceed.
Having successfully embedded the narrative, think of it as the CV for your product or brand. But how do you secure the interview? Though the interview (i.e., the purchase) may seem a mere formality, it is critical to bear in mind that all purchases are mentally premeditated and that you, as a shrewd marketer, have skillfully sown the seeds of why they should 'hire' you.
Regardless of its formality, it's imperative that you generate purchasing moments for your brand.
A remarkable model on behavioral change hails from an ingenious gentleman named B.J. Fogg. His Fogg Behavior model posits that behavior change only materializes when motivation, ability, and prompt occur simultaneously, B=MAP.
Interpret the purchasing moments as prompts and all your remaining marketing efforts as either Motivation or Ability.
Returning to the discussion on purchasing moments, I present here eight strategies for generating these pivotal moments for your brand or client.
Fasten your seatbelts, and let's dive in!
Product launches are God’s gift to marketers. They are an instant (hopefully) boost to all your efforts and can be super fun to boot! However, product launches can present a challenge in that they’re a big load on the business, expensive, and don’t happen often.
Editor’s note: When thinking about product development, I find it useful to bifurcate your products into concert tickets and beers. Are people coming to your brand just because of this product (concert ticket)? If not, then it is a beer product. (I actually stole this idea from Sean Frank). Now, this isn’t a judgment on the beer product, but I wouldn’t put any paid spend behind beer products. People will buy them when they come to the concert.
Two other important product development questions I like to pontificate on:
Are we creating more value for the consumer? Does this improve my business’ economics?
If the answers are both no, I would not develop that product. Ideally, the answer is yes to both. I would also be wary of the no, yes, where the economics improve, but the value for the user decreases.
A few brands that I think nail product launches:
Shopify Editions: They nailed it. Quasi doesn’t count because they aren’t DTC, but still epic.
Carte Blanche: They run off a drop/limited supply model, but still very impressive.
Minted New York: Every time Marcus drops something it's a must have. Awesome human. Brilliant brand.
One of the most OG ways of generating a purchasing moment is a Giveaway or Contest. There are some legalities here, so check with legal to make sure everything is on the up and up. However, this is a great way to bring people back into the brand, deeper into the brand or new people into the brand. Giveaways or contests should always revolve around generating value for the consumer first and business objectives second.
A great giveaway or contest will consist of a proof of work, cadence (nothing longer than 30 days) and reward at the end.
Depending on your brand, there are different ways to accomplish this.
I would use giveaways and contests sparingly, but the engagement flywheel they create can be an incredible boost to consuming the product/service and brand affinity. On top of that, you can benefit from the three phase hype cycle of pre, during and post.
Furthermore, depending on the social reach of your brand, you will be able to explode your organic reach especially on visually exciting platforms like IG.
Editor’s Note: This doesn’t mean just give way free shit, destroy margin and hope. One other thing, these can spin out of control really quickly. So make sure you follow the KISS method.
Looksee Designs: This brand makes incredible acrylic displays for sneakers, photos and jerseys. I think a really awesome contest they could run would be having everyone submit pictures of their favorite jersey and why they should pick them to frame it.
Obvi: I would love to see Obvi host a weight loss challenge. Have X amount of people enter. Have them meet with a “life coach” and then everyone has their Obvi regiment along with a workout plan, etc. At the end of the 30 day challenge, they could give 6 months of Obvi away for free to the winner.
I think the main job of a marketing leader is two-fold: create momentum/keep momentum and capital allocation. Sometimes it is easier to ride the wave than create it. So use the natural ebb and flow of the calendar to your advantage. Also, when there is something that penetrates the cultural zeitgeist, jump on it.
Shopify has a fabulous list of all the relevant holidays/celebrations you can build some of your marketing campaigns around. See here.
Obviously, the main one everyone thinks about is BFCM (rightfully so).
However, I think you can expand that thinking using the nuance of your brand. Remember, it can be easier to ride a wave than having to create one. Stand on the shoulders of giants…
Airbnb: I haven’t seen an omni-present marketing campaign executed to such a high level in quite some time. The Barbie movie has no doubt penetrated the zeitgeist (at least here in the States) and I think Airbnb took it to the next level. Barbie’s Malibu Dream House was just absolutely chef’s kiss. And yes this is also a “collab”, but I find it more interesting to include it in this section because (IMO) the timing had a huge impact on the success of this Airbnb campaign.
If you don’t have any reason to give your consumers to buy, make one up! The quintessential example of this is Amazon’s Prime Day. According to Digital Commerce 360: “Consumers worldwide spent nearly $13 billion with Amazon.com Inc. during the retail giant’s ninth-annual Prime Day…”
Three big reasons why I love Fake Holidays. One it becomes an IYKYK type of vibe. So the brand connection becomes stronger with your consumers. Two, they aren’t a straight up sale. So no need to do heavy discounting, but bundling, fire sale stock that isn’t moving and offering free low COGS high margin gifts with purchase are a perf play here. Three, it opens up a really easy gifting on ramp. So your purchaser might not be your consumer, gimme more of dat TAM!
A few brands that I think could have some massive Fake Holidays:
Dad Gang: Sure we have Father’s Day, but how about #1 Dad Day.
Caldera Lab: Treat Yo Self Day. Look good, smell good & feel good. P.S. Their products are fire!
Outway: Sock Remembrance Day. Have a fun, celebratory (fake) holiday to commemorate all those brave socks who never made it back from the dryer.
A loss leader campaign is defined as: selling a product or service at a price that is not profitable but is sold to attract new customers or to sell additional products and services to those customers. Shout out to Investopedia for the concise definition.
Loss leader campaigns are a strategy as old as time. One thing you do need to be cognizant of is that you aren’t going to be able to acquire the bulk of these customers profitably on the first touch. So I like to do limited launches or capped participants. With that being said, they can offer amazing brand building opportunities and build an inordinate amount of reciprocity with the prospective consumer.
A familiar loss leader campaign is the free cell phone with a purchase of a cell phone plan. The dirty little secret here is that there is a built in early termination clause to hedge if someone just tries to acquire the phone for free and then cancel their plan.
Loss leader campaigns don’t have to be so boring and straight forward though. Think outside the box and find ways you can drive value for your customers on value vectors peripherally-related to your product or service. Ideally, the loss leader campaign is used to drive consumption or use of your product or service implicitly.
Below are a couple examples of some loss leader campaigns with some exquisite DTC Brands:
Hexclad: I think Hexclad is so well positioned for this. If I was running the marketing there I would record three branches of cooking classes based on the jobs to be done: Meal Prep for 1, Cooking for 2, and Cooking for the Family. Offer these classes for every purchase over $X dollars.
To make things even more fun, have some synchronous cooking classes (maybe have Gordon Ramsay host one) that will drive even more engagement and excitement. The last thing I would do is offer a Hexclad reward system around the people that complete the classes aka “Congrats on finishing all the coursework; you are now certified as a Hexclad Chef.”
1st Phorm: They are already doing it, but I wanted to highlight it because it is so incredibly awesome sauce. 1st Phorm understands the JTBD at such a high level and they realized that if I can educate my customers, take away the cold start problem, and drive results through better nutrition and supplementation - everyone wins. Love love love this! Check it out here.
“From counting your macros and daily workouts, to daily live streams and a community focused on one thing, progress ... you have the opportunity to transform your life.”
Everyone wants to bolt on a subscription offering to their brand. However, you need some prerequisites to launching a successful subscription offering. First, you need a consumable or service. Side note: clothing can be considered a consumable. The next thing you need is the consumption cycle to be ~30 days. If not, you get into weird purchase cycles or people become dismayed by having 17 deodorants in their closet with more on the way.
However, I would argue if you do or don’t have the product types or sales cycle there is almost always an opportunity to start a membership. Why do I like memberships more than subscriptions?
Subscriptions are purely transactional. I give you $X for Y thing. That is where the relationship begins and ends. I don’t hate subscriptions, but I think amazing brands are leaving money and brand affinity on the table by not transforming their subscription offerings into memberships.
Memberships are about being part of something bigger. They connect on an emotional level and provide more than just a product or service. When executed properly, this emotional connection produces lower churn, higher satisfaction with the brand, and if set up correctly: major lifts to LTV.
A membership is also implicitly or in most cases explicitly a community. Most people will cancel their subscription to a driving range faster than their Country Club membership.
When constructing your membership offering, use four building blocks:
Editor’s note: If you have already done some brainstorming about loss leader campaigns, they usually make an awesome foundation for which to build your membership offering upon.
Perfect example of a brand membership:
Liquid Death: Speaking of Country Clubs, LD has the Liquid Death Country Club for the small one time fee of $125k (that is not a typo) or your soul.
For this nominal fee, one gains access to:
This is absolute perfection. I love everything about it and Liquid Death is still the GOAT.
Events are very near and dear to my heart because I am a big advocate of community and connection. I also have the belief that people must know you, like you and trust you before they transact with you. Events can accomplish all three in one go.
For us (Triple Whale), events were a huge part of our GTM strategy. The Whalies was one of our most successful marketing campaigns at Triple Whale. However, the goal of the event wasn’t to generate the most MQLs & SQLs, it was to throw the greatest DTC event ever (and I think we did that). We wanted to aggregate the top people in DTC and give them a ton of value. The knock on effects were enormous to the business and the brand.
The Whalies (just a quick recap for people that aren’t in the know) were a 3 Day Award Show we hosted in Austin, TX. Think of the Oscars for DTC. We had a Welcome Party, Award Show, two days of education, an epic dinner (we rented out Lamberts) and then a Black Tie Optional Gala. We even had a blue carpet (gotta stay on brand amirite) for people to walk down as they entered.
It was absolutely epic.
Caveat: Events are very hard to do well, take a lot of planning/resources and if they are in person can be challenging geographically (if your consumers are spread across the country).
Nevertheless, that shouldn’t dissuade you from throwing an amazing party.
Editor’s Note: Virtual events are a great way to mitigate some of the resource intensity and costs that events generate. However, I find them not as impactful as in-person ragers.
Brand examples of Events:
Lululemon: Lululemon had a massive popup this summer to promote their “Like New” initiative where you can trade-in old gear (that doesn’t even have to be Lulu). Really awesome idea and it’s pretty interesting from a finance perspective because they can use the old inventory as “marketing costs” instead of holding inventory. The former is much better on the P/L than the latter.
Bruce Bolt: This brand has been on my radar ever since I connected with the famous EcommCowboy who runs all the marketing at Bruce Bolt. One of the nicest and smartest dudes in the game. My moonshot marketing idea for him is to host a Home Run Derby. I think it would be a massive event, and the media it would generate would be incredible. It also gives people the aspirational allure that all the people that wear BBs are the best or want to be the best. I mean, I am not even into baseball and I would probably attend 🙂.
Last but not least are brand collabs. When thinking about a brand collab there are usually a few things that I marinate on: personality, product, and reach. Will the brand we’re partnering with have reach that will increase my TAM? Will we make a product together that will ignite a feeling of awesomeness in my current user base, increasing brand affinity? Lastly, do they have the same brand values?
I have written about my top 10 brand collabs here.
Brand collabs aren’t necessarily a keystone of a marketing strategy, but can be a lot of fun and insanely impactful when executed well. I would suggest one a quarter or maybe two a year. Make them uber-exclusive (see memberships above) and make sure you build the three phase hype cycle (pre, during, post) around them to generate the biggest return on investment.
Brand Collab Examples:
**Malin + Goetz x Brain Dead:** This collab slaps and is everything you would want to see out of two epic brands colliding to make a fantastic product. I think they nailed personality, product expertise, and reach with this one. Strong.
In summation, we have scrutinized an octad of techniques poised to assist marketers in manifesting purchasing instances for their respective brand or clientele. These methodologies encompass product unveilings, promotional giveaways and competitions, culturally relevant and calendrical occurrences, contrived festivities, 'loss leader' campaigns, subscription and membership schemes, significant events, and symbiotic brand collaborations.
It's vital to recall the significance of artfully embedding the narrative underlining the reasons a customer should opt for a product, and fashioning those vital purchasing moments to foster momentum and judicious capital allocation. As marketers, we command the discernment to determine what offerings to present, the ideal timeframe for their introduction, and the method of their presentation, despite our inability to regulate the product range or operational procedures of the business.
Acquaint yourself with the JTBD framework, a powerful tool to identify the intended utility of a product and seamlessly infuse the success narrative into the minds of your prospective and existing clientele. Harness the Fogg Behavior model to comprehend the mechanics of facilitating behavioral transformation.
I've provided an array of instances of brands that have adeptly executed each of the eight strategies, spanning from Shopify and Carte Blanche for product launches to Liquid Death and Malin + Goetz x Brain Dead for brand collaborations. Importantly, do not overlook the potency of events and memberships. These serve as formidable conduits to engender brand affinity and cultivate a sense of camaraderie amongst customers.
Additionally, it is critical to maintain a meticulous record of all these activities to fully grasp their enduring and authentic impact on your brand. An excellent tool for this purpose could be Triple Whale’s activity feed within Lighthouse #TrackAllTheThings.
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