Member Exclusive   //   October 19, 2023

How True Classic trains its marketing staff to operate to keep profitability in mind

For apparel brand True Classic, “analytical creativity” is the mantra of its entire marketing operation. 

At this week’s Modern Retail DTC Summit, Paige Decker, vp of growth at True Classic, spoke about the importance of arming employees with an understanding on how revenue and profits work.

“We’re a business that’s hyper-focused on profitability,” Decker said. Indeed, the company is both bootstrapped and profitable.

That translates into every decision the company makes laddering up to its business model and financial health. And it also means Decker takes great pains to train her entire staff to understand how the retail business works — even making sure they understand parts of operation like the P&L.

True Classic is a DTC brand that sells what it describes as “elevated basic.” It first launched in 2019, using, relying heavily on Facebook ads for growth. The marketing strategy worked — it exceeded $150 million in sales in the first two years, and says it’s on track bring in more than $250 million this year. Today, Facebook still accounts for about two-thirds of True Classic’s advertising budget — especially when messaging the brand’s ethos of quality and affordability.

But as the company grows — and expands its marketing prowess beyond Facebook into more expensive and top-of-funnel areas like TV — it still wants to make sure everything is done with its profitability in mind.

With that, Decker said True Classic has structured its creative and performance marketing teams to work alongside each other. “At most companies, there is a brand team and a direct response team — and their goals can sometimes conflict,” Decker said. Recently, True Classic united these teams under one director to create more operational unity. “This helps the two teams work on campaigns that can be quantifiable,” Decker said.

Among these teams, some people work on big top-of-funnel campaigns while others work on performance marketing. This means having staff meetings to discuss how the company defines gross revenue, for example, which includes taxes, duties and deducts discounts, Decker said, “and what happens when we get down to net revenue.” Other factors that impact the bottom line, like returns, are also explained. That’s also compared to the ad spend budget to showcase how paid marketing impacts P&L. 

For Decker, this has become her guiding ethos when thinking about marketing: make sure everyone understand what True Classic is and how every decision is meant to help the bottom line.

“This is so they understand the why and what,” Decker said. “I like to use the phrase analytical creativity,” she said. That is, creative decision aren’t made by a gut feeling but with actual data backing it up. Decker said that while marketing team members don’t have to know the nitty gritty of these terms, it’s helpful that they have an understanding of how they impact the profit levels. 

“In marketing, especially nowadays, it’s so important for the marketing team to have at least some level of understanding how P&L works,” she said. “For me it’s been important to try and bring that knowledge to the entire time, so we’re speaking the same language.”