Great Creative Remains the Key to DTC Success

CLEARWATER, FL, December 14, 2020

Great Creative Remains the Key to DTC Success
Published by PDMI in Results Magazine 12/14/2020

As we all look to turn the page on a historic — to put it mildly — 2020, I’m asked to make predictions on what the 2021 market will look like. Before we really look into the future, let’s take a minute to evaluate what we’ve learned from this year.

Many in our industry leaned heavily into the words of Warren Buffett: “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.” It’s been a record year for many in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) world. Historically low media rates gave meteoric rise to those who were ready to pounce. The DTC world has long been ripe with opportunists who know a thing or two about selling solutions to problems, but what is at the root of the problem/solution relationship? The answer is: creative. Boil it all down and think about what creative really is, and you’ll recognize that — fundamentally — it is problem solving!


Likewise, the heartbeat of the DTC relationship is based on the proposition that we’re presenting a better way — a solution to your problem. Perfectly presenting that pitch necessitates great creative. The first pillar of agency services is creative. Story is the magical place where consumers connect with a brand or product.


So, when staring down the tragic barrel of a pandemic and the impact it has taken on consumers’ psyches, creative teams had to go back to the root of what creative is: problem solving. To survive this year, marketers (and agencies) had to change the way we told the stories. What happened was amazing and, of course, gave us more grit. We found ways to do things differently: to leverage the best of 2020 technology to solve 2020 problems.

We taught talent to be just as innovative — and to deliver in ways that are completely new, different, and relevant. Simply put, we crafted better ways to emotionally connect with consumers without being tone deaf to the very real struggle they, and each of us, faced.


Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.
— Warren Buffett


What does that have to do with the 2021? From what I see, the future couldn’t be brighter for our industry. Consumer behavior has forever changed, and we’re blessed to be sitting in middle of that giant wave of shoppers who’ve bought into buying direct. Even the older demographic — those who never before felt comfortable pushing the digital “Buy Now” button — has been completely reprogrammed and are all in on the new user experience.

There is an ocean of opportunity, and we all must be ready to catch the wave of brands and marketers who are turning to us to get in on direct-to-consumer methodology. Are you ready for the opportunity? Are you prepared for the influx of competition who now realize they too need a direct strategy to capture new consumers and build up their lifetime customer value?


Obviously, success won’t come without challenge. We know supply chains are still impacted, and the devastation in the retail world is what’s driving more DTC opportunity. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: everything still starts with the creative. The messaging is the lifeblood of what drives a campaign. So, when I stare into my crystal ball at 2021, I’m pumped up about by how much more important selling direct-to-consumer has become. If you’re not seeing this staring back at you, then maybe it’s time for a creative refresh — it is problem solving after all.