Customer Corner_holiday_drmartens2

Since 1960, Dr. Martens has been known for the distinctive style and famous durability of their shoes, worn as a sign of personality and empowerment. Beginning with modest roots as a work boot manufacturer, their functional footwear has transformed Dr. Martens into one of today’s most culturally relevant brands.

We asked Dr. Martens’ vice president of digital, Kyle Duford, how he approaches the busiest time of year—the holidays.

Stay tuned for the second part of our two-part interview, where Kyle shares more holiday marketing advice.

AdRoll: Please tell us about your current role at Dr. Martens.

Kyle: I’m basically a glorified shoe salesman, just without a Brannock device.

My team helps get people in the right Dr. Martens footwear when they purchase online. We also cover all digital marketing efforts; it’s ecommerce and then some.

AdRoll: You have a long-standing relationship with AdRoll. Tell us more about what the partnership means to you and the Dr. Martens team.

Kyle: I’m a loyal person. I stick with brands that stick with me. From the time AdRoll was in its infancy, we were working together. We’ve grown up in this era of ecommerce together. Thankfully, those who were at AdRoll in the beginning are still there, maybe in new, elevated roles, but the feeling of personal attention is still present.

I like feeling part of something bigger. Because even though Dr. Martens is a large, decades-old, global brand, we still hold on to our core values of a smaller, heritage English brand. Being with the right partner helps strengthen this position to our customers.

AdRoll: What is your biggest area of focus as you prepare for the holiday season?

Kyle: This sounds cheesy, but we want the people that are seeking the best alternative footwear to find it, purchase it easily, and to be excited about either receiving it or giving it as a gift. Because “Docs” mean so much to so many generations, it’s actually quite a privilege to provide that experience to those who want to be rebellious in their own way.

To do that, we plan our schedule early, line up the right partners and channels, prepare the proper products, and calendar, calendar, calendar. It’s also important to get on the same page as our retail channel. We have stores all across the country and we want consumers to have the same experience online. That takes planning, compromise, and strategy.

AdRoll: How important is holiday marketing to your business? What’s your strategic plan for the 2016 holidays?

Kyle: The holiday season can make or break a brand. And the competition is as fierce as ever. More people are online and can find our product from a lot of valid, authorized retailers. So we plan for the experience. Because what’s more holiday than a holiday experience?

We’re not a flashy brand; instead, we’re about utility and durability. We keep it simple for marketing. The ABCs are important to us: always be connecting. Retargeting is a large part of that, but so is our basic connection with those trying to find us. We treat our customers the way we want to be treated.

AdRoll: What are some examples of great holiday marketing campaigns that inspire you?

Kyle: While I don’t think it made the most business sense, I love that REI asked people to #optoutside for Black Friday in 2015. It was so on-brand. No one else could’ve done that. They owned that, and that was remarkable.

I tend to also follow a lot of the newer, digitally native, vertical brands like Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Casper mattresses. And because I’m a cyclist, I’m loving what some of the newer brands in that space are doing, like the English apparel company, Rapha, and the direct-to-consumer bicycle frame company, Canyon.

AdRoll: What advice do you have for marketers this holiday season?

Kyle: If you’re just thinking about holidays now, you may be too late. Start your strategic thinking in June, brainstorm and whiteboard in July, create your assets in August, and place your media buys by September. Or you’ll miss the boat.

To learn more about Dr. Martens and discuss your digital marketing strategy, email our team.

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