The promise of the deal does something funny to the human brain. Most days it’d be considered abnormal to step over a neighbor’s head for wireless earbuds, bursting through clothes racks and kiosks to tackle the nearest cashier. But knock the price point down 50-70%, and suddenly we never cared for Tom that much in the first place.
The shift towards direct-to-consumer digital commerce has spared at least a few spines this Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM), but the power of the deal is still wielded in much the same way. The plaza lines are now page loading times, but the twitch in our eye is still there. In 2021, 179.8 million unique shoppers made in-store and online purchases during the BFCM holiday weekend.
DTC brands hold great power on BFCM. They’re as close as an online customer can get to the experience of ordering a pizza or an Uber, and they’ve every incentive to make the biggest show of themselves via killer ads.
But standing out on BCFM is tough. What bets are you placing when creating killer ads?
You’re a DTC brand. You know what the people want, and you’ve pulled up with a product ready to move. Problem is, every DTC business is competing for space at the same set of kiosks. Granted, the internet is one hell of a kiosk, but to the average onlooker it’s just a load of noise from a few easily ignored people.
Catching an eye in the sea of flashy phone cases and artisanal fake Rolexes is no small task, as the DTC space is so saturated you could cure it and sell it as salami. Despite this, there are ways to guarantee ad creative that stands out on BFCM.
Let’s look at what you should be doing to pique your audience’s interest with your ads, and examine DTCs whose ads have transcended their humble kiosk. We’ll even talk to some creative marketing experts along the way.
Scrollers and mall goers have learned to tune out bold product claims and general chest-beating. The reason you don’t click on an ad promising $200K/month for doing nothing isn’t that you don’t like money, but that it’s the umpteenth time you’ve seen such an ad this week. There’s no identity, and thus, no emotional connection.
Ingenuity is what catches the eye, and makes a customer relationship possible from thereon. Having a confident, visible grasp on what makes your product/service unique is the origin of ingenuity in advertising, and it’s what compels prospects to investigate further. Suss out the “why me” factor for your DTC brand—the thing that differentiates you from other businesses in your sphere—and make that the focal point of every creative asset.
Knowing what we know about what drives successful ad campaigns, it’s only reasonable to place the creative itself at the top of your pyramid of needs.
Most in-house DTC design teams don’t have the capacity to take on demanding, just-in-time advertising needs on their own without burning out. A two-pronged approach is best here: Supplement your existing creative team’s efforts and brand knowledge with that of a dedicated creative team.
Having the skill sets and perspectives afforded by eons of DTC experience with the biggest retailers is a sure-bet for standout creative this BFCM.
We talked to the best in the business about how they bring the best out of their creative teams. Want to learn more?
It’d be nice to finish work on an ad and hit “send”, but doing so minimizes audience response. The best ads are built and calibrated for each avenue you send them down: A Facebook ad should be formatted to Facebook’s specifications and recommendations for peak performance, as should one for Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok etc.
When ads aren’t tailored to their mode of transmission, they can appear wonky or unprofessional—the last impression you want your creative to give. Even in better circumstances, they may not convey key information in the way each outlet likes to present content. Either outcome leads to less organic engagement, and possibly de-prioritization from the platform’s algorithm.
It may feel like a cumbersome extra step, but the gains are well worth the effort.
Design ads in multiple sizes for multiple formats, and maximize your reach without compromising on an ad’s efficacy. It may be possible to do this with your existing design model, but most DTC brands run the risk of stretching design teams too thin; either hurting the quality of the creative, dramatically increasing the time to market or eliminating potential platforms because design doesn’t have the bandwidth.
There’s no substitute for full-scale effort on BFCM. If the ad variety required to make a dent is a burden on your team, the resulting ads won’t reach the heights of those developed by purpose-built design partners that bolster your campaign without adding heads/exploding pipelines.
If the proliferation of TikTok, Instagram/Facebook Stories and YouTube shorts have taught us anything, it’s that snappy video content performs well. Comparatively few DTC brands are making full use of video in their strategies, which makes it all the more potent when a brand video does pop up in a user’s feed.
The capacity for a well-crafted video to both engage and distill your broad value points is unmatched in modern media. It’s why we have more items on our Netflix watch list than books on our coffee table; why the Oscars are televised and the Bookers aren’t.
You don’t need to work with Daniel Day-Lewis, mind you. But put your marketing dollars into professional-grade, humanizing videos that succinctly express your audience’s pains and promise clear solutions.
When we went looking for smart bets to take for this retail-palooza, we talked to some of our internal experts who know a thing or two about what grabs attention. World, meet Brock.
Brock Andony, Demand Generation Manager at Superside, says high-quality video content is the best way to cut through the noise on BFCM.
“There's never been more noise in the DTC space than there is right now, and no time of the year is noisier than the Black Friday / Cyber Monday season,” Andony says.
“If I could make one recommendation for DTC brands that want to get more out of their ad efforts this year, it would be simple: start with great video content.”
Brock also notes that Facebook’s format is especially complimentary for video marketing.
“Run Facebook campaigns with a "Video Views" objective to minimize cost and identify your best opportunities. From there, run all of your conversion ads to those that consumed your video content,” he says.
Creative video marketing can be a secret weapon for differentiating your brand and delighting an audience on BFCM.
The best Black Friday/Cyber Monday ads lead with the deal in question, while retaining and flaunting brand identity. Sometimes the deal is blatant (discounted items taking center stage), and sometimes it’s implied (two friends laughing in Old Navy sweaters). In every case, there’s a palpable sense of “act now”.
Here are some of the most effective BFCM ads, from DTC retailers who know the playbook.
The biggest name in deals is the biggest name in eCommerce, (they're also a Superside customer!) and they’re letting the deals “come to you”. The well-known cardboard Amazon box comes to life in the form of a living deal, rushing to alert you of the absurd discounts on select items.
While amazon often leans on a simple, merch-first-but-cheaper approach, they venture off the beaten path here: A less direct, but nonetheless tantalizing implication of deals awaiting. There are few strangers to Amazon in the industrialized world, and they play into their larger-than-life identity with simplicity and logo-centrism.
With few exceptions, funny is almost always better. In the case of Dollar Shave Club, humor is core to the brand and consistent across most materials. This ad they ran for BFCM perfectly captured both the personality and use-case for their products: Nearly everyone could use a good shave for cheap.
If it’s good enough for Santa, it’s good enough for you. Verizon made a smart play to tie in the upcoming holiday season to their Black Friday ad, aware of its crossover potential. It’s funny, and ties in with Verizon’s persona of convenience and expedience.
Black Friday/Cyber Monday isn’t just about a momentary spike in the balance sheet. It’s also an unparalleled opportunity for new relationships. Your audience is actively searching for the next big deal, and are more amenable to ads. You’ll never see a greater number of prospects with cash in hand than you will on BFCM, making it the biggest day of the year for any business that isn’t selling Christmas trees or pumpkins.
It’s too easy for DTC brands to squander the opportunity this day presents. The market is awash in DTC ads on a normal day, many of whom default to doing everything they usually do, but doing it more. They up the number of ads and pay more than usual for placement, as if volume alone was the determining factor.
We'll show you how to stand out from the crowd and make the most of this retail opportunity.
But volume isn’t what drives engagement—novelty is what determines engagement on BFCM. It demands getting especially clever with your creative, and with your overall strategy. Sadly, this isn’t work that most in-house design teams have the capacity or the breadth of skill to take on. The pipeline is already too packed, and skill sets too generalized to generate compelling, multi-format creative on a tight timeline and budget.
The way to maximize on BFCM’s opportunity is through partnership with experts. Professional brand stewards with decades of experience working with the biggest DTC companies in the world, with a long history of creative success in crowded spaces. No adding heads, no searching for last-minute contractors, and no settling for “good enough”. Just a purpose-built, always-on group of brand pros dedicated solely to hoisting you above the DTC fray on this most sacred day.
With dedicated creative behind you, you’ll make more than a few extra sales this BFCM. You’ll present the best side of yourself to an audience willing to hear you out. That impression is the basis of potential relationships, and it deserves nothing less than full attention.
David is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Superside. A former journalist with bylines too numerous to enumerate, he brings his love of storytelling and semantics to the marketing world. Recognizing the sizable gaps in the creative-as-a-service (CaaS) sector, he jumped at the chance to fill the creative void for ambitious brands. In his off hours, he enjoys loud music, making vegan meals and being made fun of for making vegan meals. He’ll gladly talk to you about any of the above on LinkedIn.
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