If you think of the credit unions as sleepy, dated, obsolete organizations, you are not like most people, because most people don’t think of credit unions at all.
So, when Affinity Federal Credit Union came to us a few years after the second-worst financial crisis in American history, we needed to find a way to get a lot more people to think about a credit union. And not only that, we needed to get them to contact that credit union and to make it their own.
Seven million people had lost their homes in the previous few years. Eight point eight million jobs had been lost as well. The trust in financial institutions plummeted by fifty percent, while trust in banks fell even more.
We did a strategic exploratory of all the key messages that might help Affinity Federal Credit Union achieve its goals, and we found one message that did that far better than any other.
Affinity Federal Credit Union isn’t a bank.
You can, however, get a checking account, business loan or credit card there. And people do need financial services.
Affinity had an inspiring idea above commercial intent. It had a not-for-profit public service mission that aimed to help people and small businesses help each other through community credit.
Affinity discovered what the people it serves aspire to be and do. Our planning team talked to credit union members and learned how motivated they are to not see themselves as the victims or enablers of Wall Street. Instead, they prided themselves on investing in their own community and in maintaining institution that had become so important to that community.
We had our line…
All the financial services of a bank, but 100% Fat Cat free.
Affinity took this inspiring idea and dramatized it through a small number of iconic actions.
First, we created commercials, which could have never, ever been done by any uptight bank. Our major character was a real fat cat behind a desk. The response was so tremendous that the spot ended up catapulting Affinity to a national story, and was featured on Spike TV’s Funniest Commercials of the Year — twice. And the campaign for a community credit union went viral on social networks, dramatically increasing the efficiency of the advertising. Yes, it was iconic.
Affinity Federal Credit Union – Fat Cats from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.
When it came time to showcase Affinity’s low checking fees, we knew we had to be dramatic. We brought elite athletes and fat cat banking customers into the same gym. Then, to demonstrate how commercial banks clobber their customers with enormous fees, we printed “ATM fees” and other fees on dodgeballs, blindfolded the customers and then let the athletes pelt them mercilessly. (Of course, our lawyers were present with ironclad releases and videotaped disclaimers.) It was literally an in-your-face advertisement, and it too went viral.
Affinity FCU Fee Ball :60 from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.
Affinity is using technology and system to shorten the cycle of test and optimization. The media that we run isn’t just reported by some bot. It’s seen and interacted with. We’re buying it only in transparent ways, eliminating the estimated 15-20% waste from inefficiency that most media planning/buying firms are passing along to their clients. It allows a modest and cost-effective investment to cause a dramatic uptick in both acquisition and brand value.
Through demonstrating the 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Company, Affinity is changing behaviors and getting a new generation to open up accounts and form relationships with a credit union. People want to be a part of an organization that has their interests at heart.
That’s why Affinity Federal Credit Union is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week, and we couldn’t be more proud to be its agency.
When you have a better mousetrap, you don’t hide the fact and you don’t need to dress it up. The very simplicity of your presentation becomes the ultimate proof of the superiority of your product and the confidence of your company. Only the best can be absolutely plain and direct.
- “1000 songs in your pocket.” – Apple
- “15 minutes will save you 15% on car insurance.” – Geico
- “People do stupid things, like paying too much for phone service.” – Vonage
- “A great shave for a few bucks a month.” – Dollar Shave Club
- “Rides in minutes.” – Lyft
- “Be more productive at work with less effort.” – Slack
Of course, your substance must be presented with style. Who doesn’t want to be an iPod silhouette, for example? Geico’s pragmatic punch line is always preceded by a jab of accessible humor. Vonage brings pure and stupid joy to saving money on broadband phone service. The message, however, remains the same.
Do you have a better mousetrap? Then fight like hell to present it simply.
Trading can be a solitary pursuit. But not for graduates of Online Trading Academy. OTA’s culture delivers a lifetime commitment, community, hugs and love.
What they are doing is a preview of the future. They are enabling people to use machines to do the work of making money, so that the people themselves can spend more time on human pursuits.
One trader devotes himself to funding his father’s retirement. Another spends Fridays and weekends rescuing dogs from kill kennels, caring for them and finding them homes. Another sets up trades to fund his family while he preaches in poor churches that can’t afford to pay him. A single mother trades to make money and still be able to teach her daughter every day. Post-heart/lung transplant, one father of three trains for a new career he can pursue in recovery (and makes even more money than he did at his old management job).
This stuff may be for people who love dealing with numbers, analysis and routine, but they do it to create more time for being human beings.
In this sense, OTAcademy and Online Trading Academy are on the cutting edge of the relationship between humans and machines, and they are projecting love and empowerment into the future.
Now that’s Inspiring Action!
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.