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How a DTC orthotics brand is advertising to people ‘while they’re walking’ to get in front of them ‘when they feel foot pain’

Fulton, a direct-to-consumer orthotics brand, is aiming to educate younger consumers and boost brand awareness with ads on trash cans, fliers with pull tabs posted throughout New York City.

The guerilla-marketing efforts, which are in addition to the traditional digital and social ads that up-and-coming DTC brands lean on, are meant to help the one-year-old brand stand out to younger consumers who may not think about a need for orthotics.  

The trash can ads and fliers posted throughout the city don’t pitch the Fulton brand directly. Instead, they’re meant to get people thinking about why they’re in pain while walking with messages like, “cool shoes but they’re killing you” and ask consumers to visit shoessuck.com, which then redirects to the brand’s website. 

“We want to be advertising to people [where they will see it] while they’re walking because that’s when they feel the foot pain,” said Libie Motchan, co-founder of Fulton, adding that the brand is aiming to educate consumers on the need for arch support as well as boost brand awareness with the effort. “We’re still so young. We’re learning about our customers, learning about the pain points of customers.” 

With the addition of the trash can ads OOH advertising represents roughly 15-20% of the brand’s ad budget this month. Previously posting fliers would represent around 5% of the brand’s monthly ad budget. The majority of the ad budget — Fulton spends roughly $35,000 per month on advertising — is dedicated to Facebook and Instagram as well as Google, noted Motchan. The brand also has a presence on TikTok, but it is leaning on organic content there. 

“We do the traditional paid social, paid search,” said Motchan. “We’re also very much building out SEO and blog content. There’s a lack of information around the importance of arch support. [We hope to] become a modern hub of accessible information to explain why arch support is more important.”

Aside from educating consumers about the necessity of arch support and the potential relief from back pain by using said support, Fulton is also looking to stand out and appeal to consumers seeking a more sustainable orthotics brand as it is made of cork rather than gels and foams of other brands. 

“We want to bring new people into the category,” said Motchan, adding that half of the company’s customers have never worn insoles and that insole marketing typically focuses on specific demographics like athletes, hikers and older folks. “There’s an opportunity to make an insole for everyone to wear everyday.” 

Boosting brand awareness with a mass approach can be difficult and expensive for brands today. “For direct-to-consumer brands in today’s market with really expensive digital marketing costs you need to be tailored and targeted,” said Eunice Shin, head of DTC for brand consultancy Prophet. “Rather than trying to boil the ocean, having a more refined marketing approach is better to go after them.” 

The brand has started to focus on specific communities, per Motchan, as she combs Reddit forums where people post about foot pain, back pain and knee pain. Motchan uses an automated tool to send messages on Reddit to different communities of people who are on their feet all day – Starbucks baristas, USPS workers, Trader Joe’s employees – who are seeking a solution for a pain point online. 

“I’ve seen people recommending Fulton to people without me doing it,” said Motchan of reading the Reddit forums on foot pain. “That’s the most validating thing.”

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