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Category : Digital@Speed

7 Things Challenger Brands Do Differently

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Apple. Virgin. Southwest. JetBlue. Crunch. Snapple. Groupon. BlueFly. Zappos. The Motley Fool. What do these brands have in common? They’re challengers, and successful ones at that.

They’ve mastered the art of zagging where others have tended to zig. They’ve taken on the goliaths of their industries and come out on top. The truth is, it’s a challenging world out there, and every marketer these days needs to be a successful challenger or go down.

Market leadership doesn’t create an exception. Look at Citibank and IBM, for example. By becoming their own best competition, they’ve looked like ready challengers, reinvented their businesses and continued to grow.

Here’s what challengers do differently:

1) The top dog is INVOLVED. Intimately.

Some folks think the reason they got degrees and big titles was so that they could independently run their own empire. Some of these people are actually pretty smart. But nine times out of ten, this attitude will do them in.

A boss is not a meddler to be avoided. If you were playing chess, you wouldn’t leave your Queen in the background and try to fight it out endlessly with your lesser pieces. Or would you?

Forget the org chart. Every player on the board is on your team. Use them!

If you want to make things happen @speed, you want the least distance between you and your boss. And you want to access the power your boss has to smooth situations and to make good tactical decisions into great strategic initiatives. Plus, you want the power to change things that you’re not personally responsible for, because changing those things will make all the difference in your ability to create success. So, you bring your boss in as a collaborator and ally. As much as possible, you lead hand in hand. It’s the challenger’s way to use every last person.

2) The advertising conversation and the business conversation are THE SAME CONVERSATION.

Don’t separate what you’re doing from why you’re doing it, even for a moment. You never want to be the one saying, “But we failed with work that was on the strategy we were given!” That is a level of responsibility, but it’s the wrong level.

You want to be responsible for the success of the enterprise. You want the brand and business to reach its full potential. You want to use not just your authority but your influence. Because nothing beats being a part of something great and you don’t want to leave that to chance.

In this context, great advertising is advertising that works for the business and brand. It brings the business strategy to life. It creates the connection that reflects the intentions of the business while both suggesting and fulfilling its promise.

This is where experience meets selling meets branding.

3) The work is seen as the ultimate weapon for conquering the competition.

Where is the unfair advantage to be found? You are not in a position to outspend. You’re not going to break the law. Or trying to change it to favor you. But you can pack more power into the product, the packaging, the service, the story, the propaganda. You can be smarter about the technology, the testing strategy, more ingenious and industrious about the optimizations.

You can win it in the marketplace of ideas. So, do that.

4) The brand is seen as a precious asset and the ultimate defensive fortification against copycats and commoditisers.

Challengers build unique brands and they value them above all else. Customers are intensely loved, but they come and go. Employees are highly valued, but the sort who are attracted to a challenger business can only be held by a great brand. A unique culture and point of view is often the only thing to hold onto in the perfect storm of growth.

A brand is armor and a full tank of gas. A brand is everything. And you only need a business to build one!

5) The VISION of the top dog drives the advertising.

Steve Jobs met every other week for intensive sessions with Lee Clow, the creative chairman of his advertising agency. In the most successful challenger businesses, the vision for the brand and advertising comes from the top. No question about it.

That kind of courage and purity of vision can’t be bought. It can’t be outsourced. No committee could sustain it. For a business that has its founder to get the full advantage of that fact, the vision must be owned and driven from the top.

6) The vision of the agency and the vision of the client are complimentary and synergistic.

The mutual inspiration society should include client and agency, vigorous discussions, sharing inspiration, lots of choices, and plenty of going back to the well.

The most sophisticated team wins.

7) Decisions get made in meetings, not just in between.

In big, bloated bureaucracies, meetings only ratify decisions that are made elsewhere. Which is why most people in those places feel that there time is wasted in meetings. Because it is.

But you don’t have time to waste. So you’re not going to protect your own ego or anyone else’s by pretending for a second to agree with what you don’t. You’re going to have real conversations. In front of whoever is there. And when some people complain about that and they try to negotiate with you to stop the open, inclusive, challenging, passionate dialogue, you are going to say, “I understand how you feel. And, no. Absolutely not. Because that would be replacing occasional discomfort with the endless pain of mediocrity and failure. Which you wouldn’t tolerate for long… you’d be gone. So, no! Let’s just agree to be respectful to each other, to put the good of the work first, and to say exactly what is on our minds.”

 

Think In Tribes

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

If you need to understand and connect with people quickly, think tribally.

Everyone comes from somewhere, and often from multiple somewheres. Those places – schools, industries, departments, companies, clubs, states, countries – have cultures and languages all their own. So knowing the tribe can be the key to truly understanding the individual.

 

Hunting With A Fishing Pole?

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Too many people are falling for hunting with a fishing pole. 

Let’s say you’ve gotten this far in life on your fishing skills. But the waters are all fished out and the hunters are bringing home the big dinners now. Do you get advice, read all you can about hunting, find a guide or partner to lead you? Or do you just head off into the woods with your fishing pole and tackle?

Fishing-Pole-Free-PNG-Image

Of course not. If you are with me to this point, you of course recognize this as absurd. And yet we all do this in some part of our lives, very likely in more than one. The fact is it’s so hard to keep track of the things we know that it’s impossible to even learn the names and categories of all the things we don’t know.

And knowing is just the first step. Accepting is another thing entirely. Knowing what to do about it is a third. If the thing you don’t know is a fatal flaw such as not knowing how to judge character and quality in people, then that’s going to dog you no matter what you do. You are going to need to address that directly, as quickly and as energetically as you can. You’re going to need to get the best help you can with that, because it will be like driving with the emergency brake on- it not only slows you down, it also stinks.

Work as hard as you can on getting to know what you don’t know. If you don’t know marketing, find someone to trust. Of course you need to learn and check with other advisors, but you want to try to develop trust and a good relationship with a key advisor. Look for proof, for measures of success that make sense, but delegate real responsibility and authority.

Create a real partnership and let it flower.

-Mark DiMassimo, Chief

 

Celebrate The Messenger

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

I don’t shoot the messenger. Ever.

When someone brings up bad news, raises a controversial subject, or just tells the ugly truth in a meeting, I go out of my way to praise the messenger right there and then.

I want to make an example of them for everyone else. THIS is what I’m looking for. Honesty. Openness. Realness. Challenge.

If you don’t do this, you will hear less and less of the truth. And then where will you be?

 

Take The Word “Brief” Seriously

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

ErnestHemingway

Ernest Hemingway is said to have created the shortest short story ever. Over lunch at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, Hemingway bey his writer friends he could write a compelling tale in only six words. His lunch mates happily bet $10 each that he couldn’t do it. Hemingway scribbled six words on a napkin, then passed it around. Each writer read the napkin and immediately conceded Hemingway had won. The six words: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

At DiMassimo Goldstein, we could say, “We’ll get you to a better place and we’ll get you there quicker.” But we say, “Higher standards. Shorter runways.”

So let’s not ever make each other guess which part of a brief is the important part. Let’s just include the important part. Let’s make sure our briefs are simple, compelling and crystal clear. Nothing in an agency is more sacred. – From the DIGO Standard .

I like to think that it’s called a brief for a reason. This is not about “minimalism” or some fetish for curtness. Before a brief can be a tool for getting the right creative work or media thinking out of a team, a brief is a tool for getting thoughts focused. Focused thinking is elegant. An elegant solution is everything that is necessary to solve a problem, and not one thing more. Looking at it from the other directions, you want it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Think problem/solution. Question/answer. Stimulus/response. Just as listening well is essential to communicating effectively, defining the problem is essential to creating a solution.

 

Craft Your Questions

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

It’s not hard to find the smartest person in the room. Just listen for the best questions.

Take time and care to develop your questions. Think about what’s most important. You’ll get better answers. And more importantly, you’ll get answers you can use.

Ant think about using questions to create engagement in social and digital media. Questions are a great way to engage, and the answers can be surprising and valuable as well.

 

See Like An Optimizer

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Optimizers have a way of seeing.

If I can’t get this across to you, then nothing else in this book will get you all the way there. You have to be able to project things forward in your mind. Like a chess master, to think trough the next few moves. You have to develop a feel for how things might go. The truth is, we all have this radar. It’s just human instinct. But some of us have better access to it than others.

This has been scientifically proven. If a threat – say a rat or a coyote – enters your peripheral vision, your little hairs will stand on end before you even consciously know what’s going on. Something in you knew, and reacted.

We know. Even when we think we don’t. Even when we’re so invested in the idea that we don’t that we’d swear to it ten ways to Sunday. We know.

We need a way of getting it out. I write a journal. I meditate. I play devil’s advocate with my partners and ask them to do the same with me. I indulge in focused worry sessions, to make sure i’m not missing anything.

Project forward, and optimize.

7 Habits Of Highly Affected People

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today. 

Great brands are like great individuals. Authentic. Idiosyncratic. Unique.

But most brands, like most people, fall into bad habits. And the bad habits cost them dearly. To help you avoid them, here are the Seven Habits of Highly Affected people.

1) Trying to be cool. The coolest clients never brief in “cool”. They focus on relevance.

2) Falling into The Aspiration Trap. Usually, you’re not the target audience. Neither is your Hamptons-dwelling agency head. Remember: it’s about the target’s aspirations, not yours.

3) Briefing from the Trend Report. Great brands create trends.

4) Management Fads. Quality is not job one! Professional management has buckets of specialized concepts. They don’t belong in great advertising, even to professional managers.

5) Believing: “You don’t get it because you’re not the target.” Your job is to get it or you shouldn’t be signing off. Period.

6) Wishful Thinking. Advertising can be a tool for leadership. More often it is a reflection of corporate denial. Advertise the target’s wish, not the company’s.

7) Mistake execution for ideas. It’s easy to fall in love with something beautiful, novel, funny, poetic, witty, or profound. Do fall in love. But first make sure there’s a powerful, convincing idea in the middle of all the artistry. If you’re in the right sort of place, your job depends on it.

Most brands have fallen into one or more of these habits. That’s why great brand change agents will always be busy.