Taja Dockendorf, founder and creative director of Pulp + Wire, knows the ins and outs of creative marketing strategies. If you want your product to stand out in the online retail world, you have to give your customer not only a great product, but a great overall buying experience. Everything from advertising to the packaging to your loyalty rewards contribute to the customer’s experience with your product. On this episode of Subscription Radio, Taja and Ben talk through strategies to create loyal customers for life. Taja explains how to add value to the customer experience, grow your brand past the $5 million mark, and make the most of your metrics.

Show Topics

  • Design with the customer experience in mind
  • Add value with small surprises
  • Keep people interested
  • Utilize social media
  • Trust the people you hire
  • Don’t get too close to the process
  • Look at the metrics
  • Let people choose for themselves
  • Know what your consumer is looking for
  • Give people the rewards they want

Show Links

Key Takeaways

9:30 – Design with the customer experience in mind

The packaging and presentation of your product are just as much a part of the customer experience as the product itself, so be intentional with your package design.

“I do test a lot of consumer experiences because I like to see how other brands are showing up, because a big part of what we do for CPG brands, when we're thinking about packaging, it's the tangible pieces. So pulling from my background, the industrial design, it is a full 360. It's feel, ultimately it's taste, but it's also touch, it's smell. It's everything that's fully immersive of that brand, that is what makes you either love or hate a brand. So when you're shopping, I think, it is a second grade reading level and a two-second attention span, something along those lines. You're not thinking clearly, you are thinking based on instinct. So it is color. It is quick hit, visuals. But then when you're in your home, and you’ve chosen to purchase something online, that changes. Their experience with the psychology of that CPG brand changes. You can educate so much more. You can have QR codes that lead to whole landing pages now. There's interactivity that can happen.”

11:26 – Add value with small surprises

If you add an unexpected freebie like stickers or a coupon code to the package, it can really enhance your customer’s experience.

“It can be anything from stickers to a coupon card or a free, there's a lot of referral friend things on there, too. Sometimes just a little value add or a sample of another brand that you've collaborated with. I've seen that, too. I think it was the early days of Rue La La, they used to send through samples, kind of like what you would get from like a Birchbox sample, as like, ‘Hey, we think you might like this brand.’ And granted that wasn't a subscription, but it was an opportunity to get to learn about new products that you weren't expecting to know about. So it's, again, it's those moments. It could be a piece of merch, like if you're on a subscription and your fifth box has a t-shirt in it, or your fifth box has a little something of value that is different, or it could be a mantra. It could be a zine that you can subscribe to or something. Just something that gives you more value-add than what you were expecting.”

17:08 – Keep people interested

It can be hard to get people interested in keeping up a subscription to your product. To maintain their interest, pay attention to your customers’ buying history.

“Are you really utilizing a subscription program to learn about your customers? There's different subscriptions out there, but you really want them to tell you, ‘Okay, this person Ben has ordered these chips five times now over the last five months. Warning: he either loves them a lot and he would be a great ambassador and we should send him something, or he might be getting tired of them. And at that point, it's kind of like where in their process can you automate, throw in a bag of this flavor? Let's diversify things a little bit as a free gimme, because you've obviously shown your loyalty six times over. That's huge. And they don't want you to drop off, but what moment can they personalize it to you versus just shooting out another order? That's different AI, and listening tools, and watching for the consumer behavior, and how many times I've ordered. But there are subscription programs out there that tell you the repeat buy and what they've been buying and how many times. It's just paying attention to it and bringing a personal side of humanity saying, ‘Wow, she's really loves that product. What can we do to get them hooked onto either another skew or to know that we value him as a consumer?’ And I think those are the moments that can make or break a relationship with a brand.”

20:13 – Utilize social media

Social media is a great way to gain traction for your brand, whether that’s by targeting new consumers or by using current customers as brand ambassadors.

“Do we have someone on the team that can actually go and look at their social media? Are they on TikTok? How big of an ambassador are they for us? And a lot of that you can see if you've got a social media manager, they'll be able to see mentions and consumers and customers who have spoken about your brand. It's mapping all of that together to get that visibility. So it's a lot of psychology, and it is some busy work and some trial and error, but it really is bucketing your customer base and looking to see who your most valuable customers are. And then what do they look like? Because if you know, your A people and their demographic, where they're located, what their favorite skews are, there is so much power in those metrics, because now you can actually target customers just like them on social media and advertising, too.”

23:56 – Trust the people you hire

Once your company begins to grow, it can be hard to relinquish control. But you need to be able to trust the people you’ve hired to do their jobs well.

“When you reach that, I would say over 5 million, more like 5 to 20 million, you have owners that have built this company. It's their baby. Sometimes it's hard for them to step out of the way, and to trust other people to help build the business. And that is actually where I see the most failure. It is trusting. It's like they have to micromanage every piece versus understanding. And this is what I work with brands on is, know what you're good at. Know what your strengths are. Focus on those strengths. Don't try and own every single aspect of your social media, delegate that out. Don't try and own every single step of how your packaging is going to look, trust the experts. And it really is trust in the team, because you've grown to this level and you need more team in order to execute properly and to grow further. But if you don't trust your partners, you're not going to go anywhere.”

24:53 – Don’t get too close to the process

It gets harder and harder to micromanage your business as it scales. If you want your company to keep growing, you have to get out of the everyday minutiae.

“That’s the biggest roadblock that I do see is their inability to move forward because they are so close to the process, and they can’t move up to that next level. I've seen that with brands just white-knuckling their social media. Of course it should be in their voice and it should be authentic, but they need a team they can trust. But they have to micromanage every single aspect of it. So ultimately they get frustrated and then they're not moving forward, but they're not innovating on their brand, which is exactly what they should be doing. So when you get to that level, it's like, well, I've got five skews and that's all we can do, but you should always be thinking about that next product. What’s that next thing you're going to offer? What's that next exciting shiny object that you're going to give your customers? And to do that owners of these companies, to think that way, need to get out of the everyday minutiae.”

32:09 – Look at the metrics

Metrics can tell you who your audience is, what’s resonating with them, and where they might go in the future.

“I love to always hear what they think their consumer audience is. And then I like to validate that. And I like to look at Google Analytics, what's happening on their social media platforms. I like to look at everything. Where I have metrics, let's look at it. And then listening tools are also really helpful to understand where they're at within their space, and then looking at what's happening within the trends market. What's growing in that space, also. And what's resonating well with different audiences. If it's gen Z or gen X or millennials, all of that we need to unpack, and then understanding the product. Because they might think this is great gen Z product. And it's like actually, we should be marketing boomers because of what this is. So it's really helping them look at the product and look at where their audience is presently and where their future audience might also be.”

35:34 – Let people choose for themselves

With subscription services, people are buying the experience, so let them choose what they want to keep or switch out.

“At the end of the day, you're buying the experience and the ease of convenience, but that opportunity that you're excited when you know what's going to hit your door. And I do like, we do some of the snack boxes here in the office. One thing I do like about that subscription, which has allowed me to keep going with it is my right to change what I want. And I think I've seen that too in some of the clothing subscriptions, too, like trunk club. Instead of there's someone saying, here's what you're getting, you actually have a voice, and it allows you to pick every month. Oh, I actually don't like that. I like this. I want to switch this out. I want to do that. So it becomes a shopping experience versus a redundant process.”

39:43 – Know what your consumer is looking for

If you know what your consumer wants, you’re more likely to be able to give it to them. Remember that your customers’ perception of the product is just as important as the product itself.

“If you've got a great product and they're buying it, they're going to know what's a great product and they're going to buy from you again. And I think that's the one thing we need to remember is that the product needs to be just as good inside that box or can, as it looks on the outside. And you need to understand what your consumer is looking for and not trying to show them a beautiful design that looks the opposite of what they're actually getting. So I think there's still, we are such a visual first breed. We like things that look good, but we also need to make sure that they tie in properly to what the actual product is. So you're not again doing a bait and switch. Because I've seen that with a lot of brands. And like, Ooh, this should taste like this based on the color and the illustration and how it looks. And then that's not even close.”

49:02 – Give people the rewards they want

Your rewards shouldn’t give people more work to do. Make sure your customers’ rewards are going toward products they actually want.

“I've seen others where it's like, ‘Oh, congratulations. You can get a $5 Starbucks gift card.’ It's like, well, I don't want that. I want money back. I don't want something else that then makes more work for me to do. And I think that comes back to, maybe it's our innate laziness, but I don't want more work. I want to know that I already love this product, and I'm buying again, and you're rewarding me in real-time with something that I can really use on this order, or it's a free gift because you know that it's my second order. Sometimes I see those if it's a repeat order, I get an email. It says, thank you for supporting us again, we'd love to offer you X off on your fee on the next order. That is nice. They're acknowledging that you are back again.”