Mattress buying has always been a little weird, right? In the middle of the day, you plop down on a dozen different mattresses, each one hardly different from the last, while a salesperson looks at you expectantly. The mattress company Casper thought the process, and the rest of the industry, was broken. Their solution offers integrated marketers powerful lessons about standout brand strategy.

DTC Makes BFFs
Casper immediately differentiated itself from competitors with a direct-to-consumer sales model. More than just a move to cut out the middleman and offer their product at a lower price, it enforces Casper’s chief value proposition, “Hey, there’s something broken in the current system, and we can fix it.” And they are drawing would-be consumers into a closer, more engaged relationship.

The takeway: Casper is taking successful direct marketing to new heights. DTC may not work for every business, but what can you do to forge a closer relationship with your customers?

Making the Little Things Count
Casper recently ran a series of surreal 3AM ads that featured low-fi visuals, an 800 number for an insomniac’s hotline that featured clever, calculated pre-recorded messages…and no direct sales pitch. While it might not have resulted in immediate direct sales, this mini-campaign got the company reams of free publicity, and as a whole, it fortified the idea that Casper is a company that does things their way.

The takewaway: If you have a strong unique selling proposition, you can be creative about how your communications articulate it, as long as every message supports your brand.

Birds of a Feather Disrupt Together
Casper maintains partnerships and does cross-promotions not with over-the-counter sleep aids or pillow makers but with companies like Uber and South By Southwest. The point of these partnerships is not to sell more mattresses, at least not in the short run, but to align Casper with other companies that wear the “disruptive” tag and share a similar audience. And these partnerships give Casper the opportunity to ride some very impressive coattails.

The takeaway: You may not be in a position to join forces with a multi-billion dollar company, but you can dig deep into your brand story, identify your core attributes and values, and look for opportunities that are unique and unexpected, but still make sense. Integrated marketers can also look at this unique philanthropic effort from Vaseline for another example of a powerful partnership that starts with shared values.