By Mark DiMassimo
Here’s how to get creative people to make you rich:
First off, don’t compromise.
Don’t give up one iota of ambition or one quantum of results orientation.
Don’t pretend to care about awards or fame or any of those other things that people think creative people care more about than money.
All you need to do is speak a language that lets creatives know that you are absolutely committed to BOTH – selling more and driving up brand value, money and relevant fame.
All you must do is never undermine their faith in your commitment to top-level achievement on BOTH of those scales, and then you win.
Sometimes this means saying “brand response” or “brand direct” instead of “direct response.” I know, it seems silly, but it’s a tell.
When you say “direct,” “direct marketing” or “direct response,” creatives hear, “Let’s just forget about who we are and what we want to stand for, and let’s just trick people into buying stuff.”
When you say “brand response” or “brand direct,” creatives hear, “I’m not sacrificing this brand for sales and I’m not sacrificing sales for this brand. Figure it out!”
Seems a small thing, but wait until you see how well it works! Because when you make it clear that you will settle for no less than success in the short run AND success in the long run, you become the client everyone in the shop wants to work for. You become the inspiring one.
When you show that you don’t buy the false choice between selling and brand building, you’ll see it in the eyes of the creative people you inspire. Because while, yes, a lot of creative people like awards and recognition, that’s not what they live for. What creative people live for is solving the most difficult problems brilliantly.
For more on how to get creative people to make you rich, consider using The 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Brand as your roadmap.
Behind each company we work with, there is at least one inspiring action marketer. Who works with us day in and day out. Who’s on every conference call and in every meeting. Who collaborates with us to align on strategy, creative, and so much more. Whose passion and enthusiasm for ideas inspires us to strive for greatness.
Brands are the present evidence of past marketing visionaries. We don’t buy past performance. We invest in the future, and the future is in the hands of the inspiring action marketer of today. And we invest beyond all calculation in people who inspire us.
That’s why at DiMassimo Goldstein, our clients aren’t companies, they’re marketers. They’re a part of the team. And while the end goal is always business growth, we know that in order to achieve that, we must grow as marketers – and help marketers grow — in the process.
Last week, we got to see fruits of this growth first hand when two of our clients, Jodi Fronczke of TradeStation and Liz Robinson of Sallie Mae, were among those honored as The Gramercy Institute’s “20 Rising Stars in Financial Marketing.”
From left to right: Liz Robinson (Rising Star), Nehal Beltangady, Mark DiMassimo, Jodi Fronczke (Rising Star)
Both Jodi and Liz are smart, hard-working and visionary marketers who deserve every bit of this recognition. They handle every marketing problem that comes their way with absolute grace, rising to the challenge each time. They truly value their partners, and inspire their teams. We couldn’t be more proud of them.
For twenty years, we’ve always put the client first, and when you commit to your client’s success, great things are going to happen. We love working with stars, and now we have an entire constellation. We won’t stop until our stars are lighting up a galaxy!
Congratulations on the honor, Jodi and Liz! And more importantly, thank you for inspiring us every day.
We wrote this over a decade ago, and ever since we’ve been discovering and inventing new ways to organize and inspire word-of-mouth in social networks and beyond. Enjoy!
We’ve all heard the expression, “Word of mouth is the best advertising.” We’ve seen brands built seemingly on strong word-of-mouth alone. But what’s harder to see is the contribution of strong word-of-mouth to brands with significant traditional advertising budgets.
Two hundred million dollar advertisers with negative word-of-mouth are not uncommon, and without fail the word-of-mouth negates the advertising. On the other hand, strong word-of-mouth will multiply a budget, making $15 million work like $150 million. Just consider Starbucks, Crunch Fitness, and JetBlue Airways.
How can you manage word-of-mouth? Start with your heaviest, most loyal users and turn them into Brand Advocates. These are people so passionate about the brand they can’t help but express themselves in your support. Know them. Know what they’re saying. Use planning to learn their word-of-mouth strategies for advocating the brand. Then devise programs to support those strategies.
By: James Nieman
“The Macintosh-style of travel”
Those are the words of Josh Udashkin, the CEO and founder of luggage company Raden, and although it may feel weird to group luggage and Apple in the same sentence, that’s exactly what he wants you to do.
So, when it came to designing his own product, Udashkin picked Kenneth Sweets, the principal designer behind the Apple-owned Beats Electronics (formerly Beats by Dre) as the man for the job. The result of that collaboration was a beautifully designed suitcase that’s boldly minimalistic. Unlike most of the antiquated luggage industry, it doesn’t feature any unnecessary zippers or awkward and clunky compartments. Instead, it’s fearlessly simple. It’s iconic.
But Apple is not Udashkin’s only inspiration, and if you take a closer look at the other brands that he has modeled Raden off of—Dollar Shave Club, Casper, FitBit, Everlane, and Dyson—a common theme begins to emerge.
After living out of a suitcase himself, Udashkin noticed that the luggage industry was one of the few remaining categories where industrial design and technology had not yet been married, and thus the inspiring idea of Raden was born. A “smart” bag that could pair technology with design to offer a delightful consumer experience for the plugged-in passenger.
Like Warby Parker and TOM’s, Raden subscribes to the direct-to-consumer business model, using technology to cut out the middleman. This has allowed them to sell premium suitcases at an affordable price. Everything from the wheels to the case screams luxury—yet the Raden suitcases range from $295 to $395.
And like many of the aforementioned brands, Raden thinks “Big Brand.” They know that every single brand touchpoint is an opportunity to create a positive interaction with the consumer and therefore design each of those touchpoints in ways that enhance the overall user experience.
For example, Raden suitcases arrive at your doorstep in a bag that also acts as a laundry bag, offering their passionate consumer base with the option of separating their dirty and clean clothes while traveling. Inside the suitcase, you’ll find a sleeping mask and headphones.
It’s these type of small iconic actions that really help to dramatize their brand. It’s what takes normal consumers and turns them into brand devotees. It’s what propels companies like Dollar Shave Club to billion-dollar evaluations. And it’s what makes Raden our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week.
But the package design is just the beginning. Both products—the A22 Carry and the A28 Check—feature built-in chargers, solving the pain of having to survey a packed gate for an outlet to become available or, worse, having a dead phone and/or tablet on a long flight. With the Raden, you can charge your devices anywhere.
The handle at the top of the suitcase doubles as a weight sensor so that customers can travel worry-free of last-minute overage fees, which, if you’ve never been forced to incur, tend to be ridiculous.
To activate the integrated scale, you’ll have to download their app.
App? Yes. Raden’s mobile aspect is where it truly solidifies itself as the leader in travel tech.
The app, which is free, contains a plethora of features that are designed to rid the consumer of any traveling woes. There’s a location awareness feature so that you know exactly where your bag is at all times. Now, instead of waiting around at the baggage claim for 15 minutes, you can go and grab a coffee and relax until you’re notified that your Raden is arriving.
The app also lets you know the weather and status of your flight, the closest route to the airport, and the length of the security line. And, like everything else Raden, it’s designed with the consumer in mind. Easy to navigate and crafted for a delightful user experience.
In its first four months, Raden sold $2 million worth of suitcases—and it hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down.
Speaking of the lucrative opportunity the $40 billion luggage industry presented, Udashkin said, “Younger people don’t have an affinity to a particular luggage brand.”
If Raden continues to follow the 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Company and keep the user experience front and center, that’s going to change. And change fast.
By: Mark DiMassimo
There, we said it.
It feels good. For so long, we lived a double life, whispering direct words to our business friends while curbing our language around our creative friends.
We weren’t being overcautious. We needed these people to deliver the creative work that would drive the direct revolution. And we knew our target audience. As one creative director memorably said, “Whenever I hear that word, I lose my erection.”
Well, today we have a message for that creative director, his attitude, and every other vestige of the 20th century:
We’re direct. We’re erect. Deal with it.
There aren’t many creative agencies showing up on Inc.’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. We’ve been on the list three years in a row and running. We would have been on it for each of the previous ten years, at least, if only we’d had time to submit our audited financial statements.
Are we having trouble keeping it up? Absolutely not.
We’ve been a thriving, growing independent for two decades because we chose the right wave to ride, and because we kept paddling. That wave was the direct revolution. The direct revolution that is replacing middlemen with platforms, obliterating the hard distinction between consumers and marketers, and threatening traditional players in every marketing category.
Back then, people saw direct marketing as the Thighmaster and the Juiceman, but we knew direct would be Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, Airbnb, Uber, Casper, and Betterment. We knew it would also be companies like Weight Watchers and American Express that were founded in another era but are finding ways to leverage the new platforms to modern-day marketing success.
Today, people want to deal directly with other people, and they’ve come to expect transparency and seamless connectivity. They want a direct experience. And today, creative people want to create direct experiences. They love designing actions that connect and deliver the brand experience through technology. They love building the brand in the interaction. Today, their biggest ideas are mobile, social, and responsive.
Today, we’re helping the pioneers of the direct economy in cultures dominated by technologists and financiers by connecting them with the people who can build their strategies and technologies into brands. Today, more strategies are becoming category-disrupting brands because of the creative people they rub up against.
And today, we’re at the table, redefining modern marketing and building the world’s leading brand response agency.
Today, we’re driving brand value up and cost-per-acquisition down.
Today, we’re inspiring action, and proudly direct.
If you want to run a first class marketing organization, benchmark against the category leader. Right?
Look at your category and you’re likely to see this common landscape: A market-share leader whose marketing is effective and probably conservative; a host of other players who more or less imitate the marketing tactics of the market leader; and then, maybe, one “challenger” who is the “idea leader” in the category.
Time and the market have proven that these idea leaders frequently become share leaders. Look at Charles Schwab in the brokerage category. Or Southwest and JetBlue among airlines.
The “idea leader” road is not for the faint of heart, but it’s more likely to succeed than shadow marketing the share leader. Besides, it’s a lot more fun.
Clichés. Hoary old ideas that won’t die. Every category has them, along with marketers to whom they are sweet music and the be-all-end-all of “what works.” But what happens when all the old ideas stop working? Or when your formerly great idea has been so widely copied that it’s not your idea anymore? Or what if you are just one of those daring marketers who aims for something more than cliché results? How do you get people to go along?
Try a Ritual Burning of the Clichés. Call your team together, including your agency partner or partners. Ask everyone to bring their best examples of category creative. Together, brainstorm an extensive list of clichés. From “free toaster” to “skinny model,” every category has them. Once you have a list, your team may find it very satisfying to actually burn something. It could be the whole pile of clichés or just the worst of the bunch. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Think of it as lighting a fire under the organization.
At some point, it happens. The consensus begins to build that your campaign is a bit long in the tooth. Your attempts to freshen it up and tweak your way to ever-higher levels of ROI are yielding smaller returns, or worse. Plus, let’s face it; the people you work with are sick of it.
Do you take your “old friend” out to the back of the barn and shoot it in the head? That’s the way most advertisers do it. They work up a new campaign, either with their current agency or through a pitch process. They “test” it using a couple of focus groups and then roll it out. Unfortunately, this process yields more suffering than success.
Take a page from the direct marketer’s playbook. Test your new campaigns for real using matched sets of geographic markets. Identify two, three, or four similar markets and run an entire test campaign in 1 to 3 of them while you run your current/control campaign in one. Then track the results. When you have a clear winner, roll it out nationally. Yes, it takes a bit longer. But, remember that tortoise…