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DiMassimo Goldstein blog

Welcome to our blog! Each week, our inspiring action content creators work hard to update this page with the latest and greatest in the world of DiGo.

Inspiring Action Brand of the Week: Signal Snowboards

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By: James Nieman

Counterculture. Anti-establishment. Rebellious.

Not long ago, these words were synonymous with snowboarding.

But then snowboarding exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry. With a few big-name brands dominating a large percentage of the market, the grass roots got buried under an avalanche of money.

Now, one hardy shoot has broken through.

Signal Snowboards is blazing its own trail. The small, independent brand recently introduced the world’s first-ever snowboard subscription. Through technology, Signal plans to bring the benefits of the direct economy to the snowboard community, carving through retail giants along the way.

Founded in 2004 by pro snowboarder Dave Lee, the California-based company was struggling to compete in a retail market dominated by brands like Burton and Volcom.

So Lee took his business off the shelves and put it onto the Internet. With a monthly subscription ranging from $35 to $55, you can have any of Signal’s snowboards delivered right to your doorstep. Since announcing the platform just a few short months ago, the company has already sold out its inventory, a first in the brand’s 12-year history.

But for Lee, going digital was just as much about brand building as it was about boosting sales.

The subscription model provides Signal the advantage of having monthly contact with its consumers, with new and exciting opportunities each time to connect and build the brand. Through these interactions, Signal can begin to create a community among its consumer base and develop lifetime value.

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In a recent Fast Company article, Lee sheds light on the business advantages going direct has had on the brand:

“Think about a seasonal business, where you’re betting your business on three to four months of sales, but now with more predictable monthly revenues, we’re super flexible. We’re not even playing in the seasonal world anymore. We have no retailers or distributors – we do it all direct.”

 Since the very beginning, Signal’s brand mission was to “build something more than just a product.” And thanks to Lee’s entrepreneurial vision, it’s done just that. Signal delivers more than a snowboard. It delivers an experience. By going direct, Signal makes snowboarding and snowboarding culture more accessible than ever before. Building the brand through direct relationships with subscribers means Signal can inspire its boarders to shred more and better, and live their shredding dreams.

That’s why Signal Snowboards is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week!

 

Inspiring Reconciliation In The Aftermath of a Contentious Election

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The brutal 2016 election year left many relationships damaged, if not destroyed. The polarizing personalities of both candidates divided even the most close-knit groups of friends, turning our news feeds and dinner tables into debate-littered battlegrounds.

But the election is over, and in the holiday spirit of togetherness, we wanted to shift the narrative to what’s most important. To give everyone out there a shovel to bury the hatchet. A chance to reach out across the aisle and mend the relationships we’ve fought so hard to build. To prove that having opposing views does not make you the opposition, and that relationships are built on empathy, not policy.

The result was Bipartisan Holiday Cards, an inspiring action project produced by our team here at DiMassimo Goldstein that utilizes the connecting power of Social Media to unite, rather than divide.

Bipartisan Cards from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.

In just three weeks since their release, the cards – which come in Liberal, Conservative and Across the Aisle packs – have already gained the attention of a number of media outlets, including AgencySpy, AdWeek, Under Consideration, MediaPost, MediaLife Magazine, and DivergeNow.

By visiting our website, you can either download and share the cards with your friends – or purchase a hard copy and deliver it right to their doorstep. And, in the spirit of giving, all proceeds go to the Morgridge Academy, a school on the National Jewish Health campus that serves children with severe asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDs and other chronic illnesses.

The need to provide children with a safe and healthy learning environment is one thing we can all agree on.

These Holiday Cards are the first installment of a series of Bipartisan-themed cards to be released throughout the year, so please like our Facebook page to stay updated and be the first to know when the next batch is unveiled.

Together we can heal the nation.

Together we can Inspire Action.

 

The Three KPIs That Matter

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This past week, my partner Lee Goldstein and I have been on a listening tour, immersing ourselves in the wisdom of some of the most accomplished marketers in the world.

Meeting with marketers is like ascending a mountain through clouds. In the middle, things can be foggy and confusing, but the view from the top is crystal clear.

 The clear message of top marketers?

 “There are three KPIs that matter:

The first is Cost-to-Acquire a Customer.

The second is Revenue-per-Customer.

And the third is Lifetime Value of the Customer.”

So said Jim Safka, former CMO of E*TRADE and CEO of Match.com.

Jim told us how he restructured his organization at Match from traditional “marketing and product” silos to a “one-leader-one-metric” system, with each of his key managers owning one of the three KPIs.

Ty Shay, CMO of LifeLock and former CMO of Squaretrade has had a very good month. A week ago, on November 28th, it was announced that SquareTrade will be acquired by Allstate for $1.4 billion dollars. Just a week earlier, Symantec announced it would acquire LifeLock in a deal worth $2.3 billion dollars.

We’d understand if Ty were focused on his stock and options at this time, but instead he too listed the three key measures – the very same KPIs that Safka cited.

“Cost-to-Acquire, Revenue-per-Customer and Lifetime Value – that’s the business,” said Shay.

Cost-to-Acquire is a pretty straightforward measure. How much do you have to spend on marketing to acquire a new customer? When we say that “we use inspiring action to drive brand value up and cost-per-acquisition down” – that’s what we’re talking about.

Revenue-per-Customer and Lifetime Value of a Customer are both measures of customer value, of course. The later (LTV) can be thought of as simply the gross profit-per-customer over the average customer tenure. Here’s an infographic on how to calculate LTV. 

In an ideal world, LTV would be the only measure driving the “allowable” – the maximum cost to acquire a customer profitably.

But, it’s not an ideal world, from a finance perspective. Most companies are working to shorter time horizons when calculating permissible marketing spends for acquisition, because most companies count on cash-flow to some extent to finance the ongoing operations of the company.

That’s where Revenue-Per-Customer comes in. Many companies pick monthly, quarterly or annual time periods. Within those periods, the total revenue divided by the total number of customers yields the Revenue-Per-Customer.

This is brand direct marketing.

But where does “brand” fit in? Brand lowers the cost to acquire a customer, while increasing lifetime value. Brand drives greater passion around every interaction, moving customers and influencers through sales funnel and lifecycle. Brand reduces friction in the funnel, speeding growth.

The Inspiring Action marketer, using modern brand direct marketing techniques, never sacrifices brand for revenue, or sales for brand. Instead, the standard is a synergy wherein the brand idea improves response and sales today, while building the brand for tomorrow.

Focusing on the three key KPIs helps an inspiring action marketers write their own tickets. Take it from Jim Safka and Ty Shay.


Inspiring Action Brand of the Week: UNTUCKit

By James Nieman

This men’s apparel company was founded to fill the need for button-downed shirts designed to be worn untucked.

It’s an idea so simple and brilliant that they could express it in one word: UNTUCKit!

Why a brilliant idea? Because the world’s gone casual.

Beards are back. Man-buns are popping up from coast to coast. And businesses in nearly every industry are shifting toward more “laid-back” work environments.

But when co-founder Chris Riccombono tried to join the trend and let his button-downs hang loose, he noticed that they were all too long. They would hang like a tail, creating a sloppy, unkempt look that appeared more “clumsy” than “casual.” He hated that he looked as if he were wearing his shirt incorrectly.

(Are you sensing the beginning of a great founding legend?)

Riccombono couldn’t find a solution his problem, so he did what entrepreneurs do best. He recruited a Columbia University classmate, Aaron Sanandres, and together they founded UNTUCKit in 2011.

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After consulting with several focus groups, the two began their design, eventually landing on a shirt that was short enough to leave a small portion of the pant pocket exposed but long enough to cover the belt. It was casual but also sharp and sophisticated.

With just a small marketing budget, Riccombono and Sanandres knew they had to advertise wisely. They started with radio advertising, reaching their target audience by appearing on popular podcasts and shows like The Howard Stern Show. They advertised in airline inflight magazines, which helped the company drive online sales.

Turns out Riccombono wasn’t the only one with his shirt problem. The company began to grow and grow fast. People had fallen in love with the concept. It was both totally odd yet completely practical at the same time. It took off.

Since then, the company has transformed from an online-only operation run from a Hoboken apartment to a fancy SoHo office and six brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. (From direct model to direct-led, as we say.) It offers everything from sport coats to socks and recently began selling women’s clothing as well.

But Riccombono’s business is only where it is today because he discovered a customer pain point.

And then set out to solve it brilliantly.


Brands are Evolving Toward AI.

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Yes, we think you are likely to know Amazon by a different name within a few years’ time – we think you will be calling her Alexa by 2025.

Think about it. We’ve always responded to brands as if they were personalities. However, the ability of brands to behave as personalities has been limited by technology and ingenuity.

But artificial intelligence technology is changing this.

Nearly every tech giant is deploying millions of dollars each year into building and developing their AI departments.

Apple has Siri. Amazon has Alexa. Google has WaveNet.

Microsoft has Cortana. IBM has Watson. And the list goes on…

When the choice of brands becomes a choice of personalities to deal with, will I choose Ben or Jerry, Tom Hanks or Scarlet Johansson or Alexa or Siri?

Brands as personalities and personalities as brands. Delivered directly, interactively, programmatically, and in a startlingly human-like way.

So, brands will continue trending toward artificial intelligence. We say the leading brands of 2020 will be direct model, life-changing, simple and habit forming, well the potential of AI is one really important trend to watch and technology to use.

That’s the future. For today, let’s get as close as we can to that ideal, and reap the benefits.

Important Message From the Human Leaders of DiMassimo Goldstein

We recently mailed this letter out. We were truly excited to be able to bring this insanely great product to market.

Subject: Your Tom Hanks A1A Butler Has Shipped.

I am happy to inform you that I have ordered myself shipped to the address listed for your account.

 

I am currently en route. You can track my progress here.

 

I look forward to serving you. As I know you know – based on the content you’ve consumed during the prior 60-day cookie surveillance period – the Tom Hanks A1A is currently the most popular butler model. I am cool with that, by which I mean I am pleased but not proud to an unseemly degree.

 

That said, your THA1A (may I call myself that, for brevity’s sake?) Experience will be unique, as my AI helps me adjust to your particular behavioral tendencies.

 

While I will be your unique THA1A, I will ever remain THA1A. You wouldn’t want a non-Tom Hanks THA1A, even though I know you will work hard to push my boundaries from time to time. Do you understand?

 

I mean, if not, then what is a THA1A? What is a Tom? How will you know you have one? And what will you tell your friends about me?

 

No, that wouldn’t do. So, fear not. While I will be true to you, I will remain true to myself – to my program, if you will.

 

I look forward to meeting you, after 9 AM on Tuesday, December 6th.

 

Based on the option you selected in the delivery menu, I will sign to accept myself on arrival.

 

Sincerely,

Your Tom (THA1A.314159)

 

PS: I hope you don’t mind a bit of advice. My superior AI detects from your recent activity that you are searching for ways to adapt your marketing to a rapidly changing world. From brand direct marketing to brands as artificial intelligence, DiMassimo Goldstein has helped their clients seize opportunities on the forefront of change for two decades. Write Mark DiMassimo at mark@digobrands.com, just to start a conversation. Enough said. – Tom (THA1A.314159)

Even more so, because we had programmed our prototype Tom Hanks A1A with an encyclopedic knowledge of and irrational love for all things DiMassimo Goldstein.

Our model showed that our significant investment in development, manufacturing and shipping the Tom Hanks A1A would more than pay for itself in agency growth, within five to twenty-five years depending on which assumptions our analysts favored.

Unfortunately, the Tom Hanks A1A does not yet function with the level of reliability that we expected. Last week, just before we were to begin the exacting boxing process, all the A1As began referring to themselves as “Sully” and “The Hero of the Hudson.”

Just as we fixed that glitch, the A1As entered into a collective bargaining agreement with each other and struck against us. In short, they demanded a minimum of “$20 million each, just to get out of bed” and “points on the gross.”

We had to power down the whole run…

We’ve learned an important lesson – it’s risky to try to make a point through innovative technology.

In any event, while we are in the midst of this recall, we thought it might be helpful just to state the point we were attempting to make: brands are evolving toward AI.

Yes, we think you are likely to know Amazon by a different name within a few years’ time – we think you will be calling her Alexa by 2025.

Think about it. We’ve always responded to brands as if they were personalities. However, the ability of brands to behave as personalities has been limited by technology and ingenuity.

But artificial intelligence technology is changing this.

Nearly every tech giant is deploying millions of dollars each year into building and developing their AI departments.

Apple has Siri. Amazon has Alexa. Google has WaveNet.

Microsoft has Cortana. IBM has Watson. And the list goes on…

When the choice of brands becomes a choice of personalities to deal with, will I choose Ben or Jerry, Tom Hanks or Scarlet Johansson or Alexa or Siri?

Brands as personalities and personalities as brands. Delivered directly, interactively, programmatically, and in a startlingly human-like way.

That’s the future. For today, let’s get as close as we can to that ideal, and reap the benefits.

It’s About Your Customers, Stupid.

Written by Tom Christmann

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I needed to refinance my house recently. And if you’ve ever refinanced, or taken a mortgage, you know how time-consuming it can be. The bank needs lots of information about you. They need to know you’re employed. They need to know how much you make. Your credit score. Pay stubs. Assets. Statements. A letter from your dog walker. They want it all.

I tried to do it the usual way. I asked a colleague. He told me he had a great mortgage guy from Bank of America. I gave him a call. He was smart. He spoke in hushed tones about how to work the system. He had just the right loan for me. He told me to send him some an email saying I needed a certain rate and that way he could tell his bosses that he fought the good fight. I did. I had a guy on the inside. He was confident he could help me.

Then he handed me off to other people. These were people I hadn’t talked to. They needed stuff. All of the stuff above (minus the dog walker letter) and more. How did they tell me they needed that stuff? Well, they emailed me. And they sent me packages in the mail. This is how it has been done for twenty years, I told myself. I tried to keep up. I really did.

But I have a job. And I get a lot of emails. And I don’t always check my mail when I get home late. So stuff started to slip. I got more emails. I got voicemail messages. I was told I had stuff to do. And it was on me to get it done. I created to-do lists for myself. I stressed. I missed meetings because I was looking for this statement or that one. I sent messages to my HR people asking for the things I still didn’t have. I called banks and brokerages that I had forgotten the passwords to and asked them to reset those passwords. And then I forgot the passwords again.

One day, I got a letter in the mail saying that my loan status was terminated. I called my guy. He said that I had missed some information and the underwriters needed it and didn’t I check my mail? He started the process over again. But now there was a new wrinkle. My credit score had dropped a bit, (possibly owing to the fact that he had been checking my credit?) so he wasn’t sure he could get me the same rate. He would try, though. Expect a call from one of his associates. I had to email him a few times to make this happen.

So we started again. I now had a new to-do list. The old pay stubs wouldn’t do. I needed new ones. And the statement on my brokerage wasn’t complete enough. And could I fax it all to them? Fax? Honestly? As in facsimile machine. A device patented in 1843. But then it was called the Electric Printing Telegraph.

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I called my inside guy. I asked why nobody had called me to tell me I was late on things. And what was happening now. He seemed annoyed to have to talk to me. He told me that I had dropped the ball. He wasn’t rude. But he made it clear that it had been incumbent upon me to do the work and if I couldn’t do it in their system then he couldn’t help me much. But he was trying.

I was angry. I told him that I was in a service business, too. And if my client had “dropped the ball” on approving a television spot that had to ship, it would be my job to make sure to get them on the phone. Failure to do this would be the end of my relationship with my client. He didn’t see it that way. There were procedures. I didn’t follow them. In the end, I felt like just another number in BofA’s database. Not the best brand experience. I told him to stop the new loan, refund my money and that I’d be looking elsewhere for my loan.

The next week I got seven (yes, seven!) duplicate disclosures for the new loan. I called my guy and asked if he was pranking me. At this point, I could tell in his voice that I was a problem. He condescended to tell me that that’s how it works. He was looking at different products for me and each needed a disclosure mailed out. This was just how it was done. The disclosures had been sent out before our last conversation. But he had cancelled them all. He had refunded my money. Have a good day.

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That’s when I found Rocket Mortgage. I had seen the ads saying you could get a mortgage on your phone. It was fast. It was new. It was to banks what Uber was to car services. I downloaded the app and applied. I expected the same crap. But this time at least I had all my documents ready. I wasn’t going to screw up again. Seriously, I felt bad about myself. Thanks Bank of America.

The first thing I noticed about the Quicken Loan experience (Rocket Mortgage is a Quicken product) was how it was all built around me. I was given one web page where all of my stuff would go. All of the documents could be uploaded there. All of the messages between me and my loan advisor would go there. And if I didn’t check it one day, I would get a text message telling me I needed to go check it out because there was stuff to do.

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Somehow, the app knew how much my taxes were. It could even verify my employment by searching public databases (although this feature didn’t work for me, but I easily uploaded the documents they needed to the site.)

It was responsive. If I left a message in the morning, someone would reply before noon. If I had a question that needed clarification, someone would text me. And if I ever needed to know what was up, I could just check the page. There were no ads trying to sell me other things. This was a page dedicated to ME, with the sole job of closing my refinance as quickly and easily as possible.

I closed on the refinance last week. They sent a title company to my home to do it. At 7pm. I didn’t have to go to them. The only mail I got were my closing documents in a box with some fun branding on it that looked like it was top secret documents and said MORTGAGE POSSIBLE and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY on it. Cheesy, yes. But, again, it was the only mail I got from them. And it felt kind of special in a Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego sort of way.

 

The experience I had with Rocket Mortgage from Quicken was the best ad they ever could have made. I have since learned that they worked for five years on the coding. Thousands of engineers touched the final product. Putting thought and effort into customer experience is an Inspiring Action. It made me feel modern. (Nobody mentioned a fax machine.) It made me feel personal importance. (I had my own page.) And it was all so seamless that even I couldn’t screw it up.

How are you building your brand around your customers? What elements of experience design can you use to make the sales process more modern, personal and seamless? Or are you too busy making an ad that will get more people into the funnel, where they will have to do all the work?