How DTC Brands Can Flex TV Through Growth Stages
Over the past year, we’ve seen more and more DTC brands test television for the first time. It’s not surprising, as the opportunity for testing is more advantageous than ever. Viewership is up. Rates are low. And shoppers are embracing DTC offerings more every day.
Many of these new-to-TV brands are unknown startups. Others are established, household names. What they all share is an entrepreneurial mindset. They know that if they want to grow, they need to take the plunge into the high-visibility medium of TV. They need to make it work.
And the great news is their decision doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition. TV can be utilized in a variety of ways. And a different TV strategy can be implemented at the different stages of growth. So here’s a look at 4 DTC growth stages and how TV fits into each.
Stage 1: Launching and Learning with Digital
Many brands today launch with digital channels – namely, search and social. These channels allow for robust targeting, clean tracking and an affordable launch. You don’t have to shell out millions in advertising to get started. It’s a classic ROI-focused approach.
Brands in Stage 1 aren’t ready for TV. Yet. However, it’s a great time to test and learn about what resonates with different audiences. See what messages and visuals get the most clicks or sales. Catalog the winners and losers to inform and inspire your future TV advertising.
Stage 2: Scale
Eventually, the brand will need to scale beyond search & social. Enter TV. Brands new to TV are often looking to contain costs, maintain tracking and attain a certain ROI goal. A Direct Response TV strategy meets these objectives. DRTV offers a cost-efficient way to leverage the broadest reach vehicle – and it doesn’t cost you millions. Unique response mechanisms and bespoke TV attribution models measure marketing investment against revenue. ROI is still very much king.
At this stage, you’re looking for the most efficient leads or sales. Strong optimization, considering things like seasonality, delivery platforms and dayparts, insures the greatest immediate response. You’re also introducing yourself to many consumers for the first time, so having a message that engages, informs and motivates viewers is key.
Stage 3: Build Awareness
As brands continue to grow, their TV strategy should evolve as well. Competitive dynamics shift. More or larger players are active in the market. Distribution stalls, and broader appeal for the product(s) is necessary to win big retailers or to drive incremental retail sales. And so on. While strong ROI may remain important, awareness will play a big role in helping scale to the next level. At this stage, TV evolves from a strict ROI focus to a strategy that blends DR and Brand awareness approaches. Audience delivery metrics are increasingly important. Brand recognition, awareness, consideration and affinity slowly begin to increase, feeding growth across the business.
Stage 4: Expand
It’s the life of a brand. Once you hit a big sales goal, the bar is raised for the next year… quarter… month. This is the time to expand the dual strategy for TV. Your DRTV program leverages longer length spots and efficient dayparts to drive direct acquisition with web traffic, call volume, increased leads and conversion rates. A brand strategy, layered over the top via shorter length spots, reminder messaging or emotional appeals in high-reach programs and drives awareness, influence and consideration. The impact of this dual strategy is best seen at the highest level of measurement – tracking incremental sales volume, quality of leads, stronger conversion rates. “Always on” channels like paid search, email and direct-mail channels act as conversion tactics for the incremental response.
Throughout these stages of growth, it’s important to test and learn. Measure the impact of strategy shifts, budget increases and new messages. Then set your sites on the next goal. After all, it’s that entrepreneurial spirit that got you into this in the first place.